Environmental Studies

Section I
1. Introduction

We start with the voices of parents and teachers of children in government schools who have
seen how a change in assessment processes could actually help their children learn better.
These are voices from the district of Mallapuram in Kerala where, during the last curriculum
renewal effort, special emphasis was placed not only on changing classroom practices but,
more importantly, also on the examination procedures. The fact that parents do understand
and convincingly demand a more enabling evaluation system shows that any major change
must consciously involve them and others in the community, to work together towards a new
vision.

1.1 “Should we not Assess their Real Achievements?” Parents Ask

Hameed, the Vice President of the Parent Teachers’ Association of Thanur Block, raises
pertinent questions about how children need to be allowed to think for themselves, and how
their examinations can give them confidence to do so:
We must first ask ourselves why we take an examination. Earlier every teacher
liberally used the red ink pen to throttle children’s expression. Now children are not
forced to write ‘for milk’ in response to the question ‘how is a cow useful for us?’
They can think for themselves. Now there is no tension during exams. Children know
that the exam is not to penalise them – it tells them what they know, so they are not
scared to show their results to their parents. Parents also do not ask, ‘Why didn’t you
get this rank?’ Wherever the School Support Group is active, parents know and
understand these issues.

Children are now writing their own poems. In the old system they had to memorise
everything. In fact, even if famous poets were today asked to write their own poems,
the traditional system would surely cut their marks for some mistake or the other!

Sanskritised words used in science, such as ‘Ghraangraahi’ (smell sensors), can not
even be pronounced or understood by children. Then why teach these? There is need
to change even the Class X board exam because more than half of our children fail in
that, but they do better in life. Then what kind of testing is this? Should we not assess
their real achievements, instead of testing their memorising capacity without any
understanding?”

However, owing to pressures from various quarters, as well as vested commercial interests,
there was an attempt to revert to the old textbooks and traditional examinations. Parents and
teachers, especially those who have seen children from poor families encouraged to think and
therefore performing better in primary school, were worried about the sudden change they
faced in higher classes. Rajani, a teacher of Class IV, almost broke down while narrating the
experiences of her son. Her voice choked and her eyes moistened with tears. She later wrote
(in Malayalam) to explain how well her son was developing earlier but was now distressed
because of the rote memorisation required for the traditional examination.
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My son who has reached Class VIII along with his friends is in great mental strain -
just like a housewife, who has been cooking in a modern kitchen with all facilities,
would feel on having been suddenly placed in an old-fashioned and ill-equipped
kitchen. My son had got used to finding conclusions after doing project activities,
composing poems, gathering information through reference work, observing plants,
animals, birds and stars, and doing other similar activities. Now the old textbook has
come back and also the old system of exams. This has created great mental conflict in
him. He does not get opportunities for undertaking interesting activities; neither does
he get any time to do this. Inferences are given in the textbook; he has to learn these
things by heart. Instead of composing his own lines, he has to memorise long poems
that he cannot even comprehend or enjoy. The method of coming to conclusions
through observation, comparison and classification has now changed to learning by
heart big assumptions, principles and formulae, which have nothing to do with his
environment.

Instead of writing a diary, preparing magazines, writing reports based on newspapers,
doing experiments, reading books in the library and presenting papers at ‘seminars’,
as he did earlier, he is sitting indoors memorising lessons. Till now he had always got
an A grade in these skills but now none of his skills are tested. We are worried that
this may result in a mental breakdown. His friends are already saying that they are
soon going to quit school. Why does my anyone see the mental stress on these
children? We are eagerly waiting to get a glimpse of the smiling face of our son and
to hear him talk as he did earlier, before he faced this system. He hates these
traditional examinations.

It is not just Rajani’s son who hates traditional examinations, but millions of children in the
country who continue to be oppressed by them. In this case the boy had a chance to enjoy an
alternative system for the first seven years, which was not only less oppressive but was also
stimulating. The new system had helped build his self-esteem and his sense of worth. The
sharp contrast was therefore all the more depressing for him.

The growing number of cases of depression, psychological disorders and even suicides,
especially around the time of exams, is alarming. Parents are concerned about it and
helplessly seek ways to cope with their children’s condition. It is not just depression that is a
cause for worry but the fact that most children’s personalities are getting warped, and their
self-confidence is irrevocably eroded. Then why do that we continue to force them to suffer
and push them deeper through the grind? Why do we opt for ‘painkillers’ for our children, in
the form of counselling and tuitions, instead of dealing upfront with the pain-causing malady
in our own system? We do have alternative ways to assess what they have learnt, and also to
motivate them to learn better, through creative systems of evaluation. We need to appreciate
how these alternatives actually help children learn much more than routine examination
questions?

How can examinations be without tension? How is it that parents like Hameed or Rajani, who
may not be ‘experts’ in education, argue so eloquently about assessment procedures that are
closely linked to the learning processes in the classroom? What, after all, are the kinds of
examinations these parents and teachers have so passionately demanded?
We give three examples taken from the first terminal examination held in primary schools of
Mallapuram district (Kerala). These were called ‘evaluation activities’, to show that
examination questions could be made in the form of ‘learning activities’ being used in
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classrooms, and were designed collectively by primary teachers during their academic
workshops and meetings.

1.2 Samples of ‘Evaluation Activities’ from the First Term Examination

The First Terminal Evaluation for Class III, conducted by a teacher in a school in Vettilapara
(Block Area code), has no printed exam paper. She has written in her own Teacher’s Manual
the entire list of activities that she will undertake over the ‘Evaluation Week’. These have
been designed by the primary teachers of the schools in the cluster, as part of the Evaluation
Cluster Meeting.

There is one ‘evaluation activity’ for each Competency Area that has been specified in the
guidelines for each of the subjects viz. of Language, Mathematics and Environmental Studies
(EVS). Each ‘question’ or ‘evaluation activity’ begins with a ‘non-evaluatory’ activity, which
is thoughtfully designed to make children comfortable and to help them to focus on the
specific task.

1.2.1 Your favourite game, its rules and the process

Discussion (non-evaluatory): What games do you play for Onam?

Activity: Write a description of your favourite game, giving the rules, the number of people
and the process of playing.

A child named Dijo, from a low-income family, writes in Malyalam a full page, titled ‘Kule
Kule Munderi’ (Bunches and Bunches of Grapes). Only a part of it has been translated here:

“This game has no restriction on the number of people. One among the group picks up
any object like a small branch of a plant. Others sit in a circle. The child who has the
branch goes around the group saying ‘Kule Kule Munderi’. The others say ‘Nire Nire
Mundwa’ (Bring Bring More). The child quietly keeps the branch behind someone. Then
pretending that it is still in his hand, he goes around saying ‘Kule Kule Munderi’…… .”

Dijo’s handwriting is clear and confident, with no scribbles, and there is one instance where
the word ‘kutti’ is carelessly spelt, though it is correctly written at every other place.
Different evalution ‘activities’ require him to write in different styles and it is clear that he
understands the difference in the stylistic requirements of writing a fantasy, the rules of a
game, a historical piece or the tabulation of scientific information.

As we will discuss in later sections, many oral and written exercises need to be undertaken in
the EVS classroom. Teachers can use the NCERT (2006 and 2007) textbooks for several such
examples through which children learn different styles of reporting, analysis and expression.
For instance, the following exercise on the ‘rules of games’ from Chapter 10 of the Class IV
EVS textbook (NCERT, 2007) encourages children to relate the story on Kabaddi to the
other games they play.




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1.2.2 Analysis and Inference: What kinds of cooked food did you eat?

Non-Evaluatory Activity: Begin with children singing a song on food items.

Evaluation Activity: List all the kinds of foods you have eaten in the last week. Use the table
given below for analysis. Now describe which kind of food items you ate the most.

Table
Name of the food
item
Prepared with oil Cooked using
steam
Boiled




Grading Indicators
A - Student identifies the issue herself and comes to a conclusion
B - The issue is analysed but the inference is not correct
C - The teacher needs to give clues for analysis and inference

1.3 How did we ‘Feel’ as Learners? Who are ‘Good’ Learners?

Many readers would probably find the following experience uncomfortably familiar. One of
the team members of this report remembers her own fear of examinations and classroom
questions:
I remember feeling very confused about many questions in science and mathematics.
It is not that I did not have any brains. But I found that my teacher and friends were
moving too fast. I wanted to ask many questions – small, 'stupid' questions. Actually
questions are questions – when asked genuinely and with thought – but I somehow
felt 'stupid' in asking them. The thought of getting crosses and zeroes, frightened and
shamed me. The thought of cheating from friends, or just giving any random answer
with the hope that the answer would be correct, came to me every now and then. That
would have been stupid. But I am glad my parents were ready to work things out
slowly with me. I could ask them anything and not feel scared to be stupid. The time
they spent with me helped me collect myself and apply my mind to science and not
give up or become actually truly stupid.

What about you? What do you recollect of yourself as a LEARNER? What gave you the
courage to learn and what pulled you back? Did assessment at school help you to improve
your learning? Don't you think most of us waste a lot of our effort just coping with the
impact that assessment has on us – the anxiety, the helplessness, and the feeling of
demotivation? On the other hand, do those who assess us spend the necessary amount of
Every game has some rules. Let us see what happens if the rules are changed. For
example in cricket, a batsman gets ‘out’, if the balls fall off the stumps. Imagine if
there is a rule that the entire team will be ‘out’, if all the three stumps fall. Wouldn’t
that be fun!
Try and play the game with this rule. Similarly make some rules for other games and
play.
In kho-kho you get ‘out’ when someone touches you. You also get your turn by
someone’s touch. Name some games in which it is very important to touch the
players.
In Kabaddi the entire team was ‘out’, because Shyamala had touched the line. What
are some other games in which the central line is very important?
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effort to learn about our learning? Without learning about our learning, how can there be any
further learning, theirs and ours, and how can there be an assessment of learning?

Studies have been conducted across the world to understand what is meant by ‘good’
learning, and how schools manage to achieve a ‘culture of success’, even among students
who face disadvantage or adverse conditions at home. PISA (OECD, 2003) and other
international assessments have shown that students perform better when they feel confident
and motivated and have a high sense of self worth. Those students who do not perform well
in a subject, say, science or maths, also feel they are ‘not good enough’, and owing to their
lack of motivation they give up easily without persisting in answering questions or
examinations. These studies again show that ‘cognition’ and ‘affection’ are not necessarily
separable, as has been traditionally thought.

Those schools are considered ‘outstanding’ that actually add value to children’s knowledge
and learning, not just those that select already advantaged children with educated and affluent
parents. A study of schools that achieved outstanding results in seven Latin American
countries (UNESCO, 2002), to understand what policies help ‘quality and equality in
learning’, showed that performance was highest in schools where there was affection, respect,
confidence, a sense of collectivity and a special relationship with children. Mistakes in such
‘outstanding’ schools are seen as learning tools, rather than a chance to label students as
‘weak’; students review the ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ of an error to themselves seek alternatives.
Importantly, it has been seen that teachers of such schools have high expectations from all
their students, and spend more effort on those who have difficulty in learning a particular
thing.

The examination pattern is crucial to what goes on in class, and to a large extent determines
and delimits what children will be allowed to learn. Indeed, by changing the evaluation
systems we can, in turn, ensure that the range of abilities sought to be assessed is enlarged
and thus the teaching learning process also changes.

1.4 An Overview of the Chapter

This chapter at how we can move towards a new system of assessment of children’s learning,
both at the classroom level and also for designing more suitable tasks for the examination.
Examples of such examination tasks (from Kerala) are given in Section 1.2. Moreover, voices
of parents quoted in Section 1.1 show that if we involve them and the community to observe
how and what children learn, we will get their support to develop a better system for
assessing and reporting children’s progress at school.

Section II shows how children’s understanding of concepts in EVS develops, and also
discusses how they cannot understand some concepts because we have been teaching them
too early. We see that a teacher of Class III demonstrates an experiment on ‘air and
combustion’ (Section 2.1), but children at that age cannot make the connections she expects
them to. Similarly, we take examples of concepts such as the ‘water cycle’ or ‘governance’ to
show what they do not understand. In a more detailed analysis (Section 2.4)’ of ‘maps’, a
crucial area we have long neglected, we see that 13 year old children too find it difficult to
properly use and draw maps they may need in everyday life. Conceptual understanding of
maps develops gradually over the years and draws upon many areas of learning. It needs the
child’s consistent engagement with how real objects look different from different
perspectives, how solid (3 Dimensional) objects can be represented on paper (2 Dimensional)
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using abstract symbols, and an understanding of relative size and positions. Mapping is an
area that needs to be dealt with both in EVS and Mathematics. The new NCERT syllabus
(2006) takes this into account and ensures that the textbooks give a sufficient number of
creative exercises to help develop a better understanding of maps. Sections 2.5-2.7 give an
idea of the changes in the new syllabus, and gives details of its broad themes, which provide
an integrated view of science, social studies and environmental education. The NCF 2005
calls for such an integrated approach for EVS at the primary level, and demands that schools
should help children construct knowledge while drawing upon their diverse living
experiences. Section 2.8 gives a list of indicators to assess different aspects of children’s
learning in EVS, which fulfill the aims of teaching EVS, and which can be used by teachers
for recording and reporting their progress during the year.

In Section III we look at three EVS classrooms where teachers use different modes of
assessment - through field visits, discussions, experiments or oral presentations – to observe
and record what and how different children are learning, individually and in groups. We give
extracts from teachers’ reflective diaries which show how closely they have kept track of
different children’s progress and problems. We also see how teachers plan small group work
so that children can learn from each other, from the questions and doubts of a group member,
much better than what they would do on their own.

Section IV gives examples of different modes of assessing children’s learning – through a
variety of tasks, such as, drawing, acting, picture reading, labelling, projects, surveys,
experiments, etc. It shows how even the question and answer format can be changed to allow
children to think and express better. It describes how teachers of primary schools are already
conducting assessments and examinations using these modes, while they also maintain
detailed portfolios of what children have been doing during the year.

Finally, Section V focuses on progress records for reporting students’ learning. It critically
reviews different formats used by schools and suggests how reporting can help parents
understand what their children are learning and what more they can do. Report cards must not
hurt the self-esteem of children, but must motivate them for further progress. They should
show that the teacher has made personal observations about what the child knows and can do,
across the indicators for EVS learning. They must also give an indication of the kinds of
activities conducted during period so that parents are informed and can also help provide a
supportive environment to children.

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Section II
2. How Do Children Understand Concepts in EVS ?

The traditional EVS classroom does not differ much from classrooms of other subjects;
children sit passively and 'receive' information from the teacher, which they are expected to
memorise. In fact, every class appears to be the same and from the responses of children one
can hardly distinguish what is being taught, and also, for that matter, what is learnt! We
hardly see children making observations, relating them to their own experiences, engaging in
exploratory activities, or classifying objects to comprehend relations. Thus, the purpose of
teaching EVS is not realised in most classrooms.






















However, there are some classes where teachers may work hard to demonstrate experiments
or even engage children in activities but which still fail in making them understand concepts.
The following are scenes from certain classes where much learning did not happen despite a
lot of activity and the best efforts of teachers. It is important for us to see and reflect about
what goes wrong in these apparently 'active' classrooms.

2.1 Air – Learning that’s ‘All in the Air’?





Preeti is a diligent teacher of Class III in a government school of Delhi. She expects that
children will understand a complex concept when they see a demonstration.

Teacher - “What is there around us?”
Students - (different voices) “Desk, chair, tree, you, Rashi, Pooja, wall.”
Picture Showing
Children and teacher sitting in a circle. The experimental set-up is on a low
wooden platform, visible to all children
Objectives of Environmental Studies
The present syllabus attempts an integrated perspective for the primary stage of schooling and
draws upon insights from sciences, social studies and environmental education. The new EVS
syllabus indicates the following objectives of teaching science and social studies at the primary
stage:
- to train children to locate and comprehend relationships between the natural, social and
cultural environment
- to develop an understanding based on observation and illustration, drawn from lived
experiences and physical, biological, social and cultural aspects of life, rather than
abstractions
- to create cognitive capacity and resourcefulness to make the child curious about social
phenomena, starting with the family and moving on to wider spaces
- to nurture the curiosity and creativity of the child particularly in relation to the natural
environment (including artifacts and people)
- to develop an awareness about environmental issues
- to engage the child in exploratory and hands-on activities to acquire basic cognitive and
psychomotor skills through observation, classification, inference, etc.
- to emphasise design and fabrication, estimation and measurement as a prelude to the
development of technological and quantitative skills at later stages
- to be able to critically address gender concerns and issues of marginalisation and oppression
with values of equality and justice, and respect for human dignity and rights
Source – Syllabus for classes at Elementary Level, based on NCF 2005
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Teacher - “No, no. Something which is present but cannot be seen.”

Silence .......... children nudge each other and exchange surprised looks. One
child speaks in a low voice.
Student - “Fragrance ([kq'kcw)”, (others picking up the cue say) “foul smell “(cncw).”
Teacher - “Tell me, what do we take in and take out of our nostrils while breathing?”
“Keep your fingers under your nose and feel.”
A student - “Breath :=| =`”

Preeti seemed to give up. “Isn't air coming out of your nostrils? THERE IS
AIR ALL AROUND US” (in a loud voice)
Students - “Yes Ma’am.”
Teacher - “We are going to do some experiments today and learn about the relationship
between air and combustion. We will see how air helps in combustion.” (~|¤
tn ¤·¤ (¤|ª +·ª ~|· =iº|ª l+ t¤| ~|· ¤n- + ¤i- +¤| l·z-| t t¤|
+= ¤n- n n<< +·-i t )

Preeti wants to demonstrate to the children that air is needed for burning and is used up
during combustion. She confidently sets up the experiment and draws the children's attention
to it. They observe with interest.





Teacher - “Why do you think the candle extinguished after sometime?”
A student - “Because it touched the glass.”(+¤|l+ ¤t lªn|= = ¤ ª: ·|i)
Another - “It happened because of the black soot.”(+|n+ +i ¤¤t =)
Student - Preeti encourages others to try.
A student - “It must be damp. Today I was trying to light the stove, but the matchstick did
not light up and my mother said it was damp.”(n =¤t ªº|¤ ¤n|- + lnº
n|l-= ¤n| ·ti ·|i n|l-= ¤n -ti (| ·ti ·|i -¤ n| - +t| ¤t =in ª:
t)

Preeti did not give up and added two more glasses to the experimental set up.




Teacher - “In which jar did the candle extinguish first? In which at did it happen last?
Why?”
One student - (responds emphatically) “The candle extinguished first in the smaller glass
and later in the bigger glass BECAUSE IT GETS EXTINGUISHED QUICKLY IN THE
SMALLER GLASS.”(“n|n¤·-i ¤|º lªn|= n ¤-<i ¤¤i ~|· ¤÷ n ¤|< n +¤|l+ n|n¤·-i
¤|º lªn|= n ¤-<i ¤¤-i t ”)

Picture Showing
Burning candle extinguishes after a few seconds
Picture Showing - Candles of same size, jars of different sizes Preeti wants to demonstrate to the
children that the candle burns for a longer time in the larger glass as there is relatively more air.
50

Teacher - “Why did this happen? The jar has air - think in terms of this and reply.” (“¤t
+¤| t~|` ¤|· n t¤| t -μ:= ¤|· n =|-+· ¤-|~|”)

Another student - “But in air the candle does get extinguished” (referring to candles getting
blown out by a breeze). (nl+- t¤| n -| n|n¤·-i ¤¤ ¤|-i t)

The classroom discussion clearly did not generate the desired learning outcome despite the
best efforts of the teacher. The responses of the children were intelligent and were based on
their keen observations and experiences. One child tried to relate her observation with what
had happened to her that morning - “the matchstick did not light up and my mother said it
was damp.” Their answers however do not tally the scientifically correct explanation which
the teacher wants them to infer.

Then what went wrong in this class? Is the concept too abstract for children of this age?
What are your experiences on how children think about ‘air’ and other such concepts? Do
you think that children in Class III can actually understand these ideas? What are the answers
they give in response to the questions you ask them on air?
This teacher failed to take cues from the children's answers that they do not understand the
concept and it is too complex for their age. Some common responses of how children think
about air are given below:

Class II children
Air comes when the fan moves.
¤¤ -|º|| -n-| t -| t¤| ~|-i t
Air comes when leaves move.
¤¤ -|-| ltn- t -| t¤| ~|-i t
In this room, the fan is switched off, so there is no air.
:= +n· n -|º|| -ti -n ·t| t -| t¤| -ti t

Class IV children
Plants give air. Air comes out from inside the plants. Air comes to the room from the
windows.
(÷ -||¬ t¤| <- t t¤| -|÷| ¤· ~<· = l-+n-i t t¤| lº|÷l+¤| n = ~<· ~|-i t
If you put a glass upside down in a bucket, the bubbles come out.
lªn|= -nº| +·¤· ¤|nºi n ÷|n- = ¤n¤n l-+n- t

Class VI children
When the wind blows, the leaves move.
t¤| -n-i t -| -|-| ltn- t
Because air is present all round, it must have entered the open glass.
+¤|l+ t¤| t· -·(· t|-i t :=lnº t¤| := º|n lªn|= n ·|i ·|= ª: t|ªi
When air gathers in one place, it appears heavy, but if it is spread one does not feel its
heaviness.
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¤¤ t¤| º+ ¤ªt ¤n| t|-i t -¤ ·||·i nª-i t ¤·-| -|·n- -|· ·||· -|-| -ti -n-|

These responses clearly show that the understanding of children with regard to the concept of
air (like all other concepts) is age specific. The Class II children depend on what they see and
experience. (When the fan does not move, no air comes). -|º|| -ti -n-| -| t¤| -ti ~|-i`.
Class IV children have started looking for explanations beyond what they can see - :t¤| -|÷|
¤· ~<· = l-+n-i t` They still do not relate to the idea of air occupying all the available
space, :lº|÷l+¤| n = t¤| ~<· ~|-i t` which the Class VI children seem to have started
engaging with. :+¤|l+ t¤| t· -·(· t|-i t :=lnº t¤| := º|n lªn|= n ·|i ·|= ª:
t|ªi`. These (Class VI children) are now at a stage when if their experiences are enlarged
with planned activities, their ideas about air can be strengthened.

In the light of these responses if we analyse Preeti's class we can see that she took up a
concept that the children of this age (Class III) cannot understand as they have not yet begun
to think that an empty glass is full of air. If we adults did not have the previous knowledge
that oxygen is used up during the process of combustion or is a supporter of combustion we
too would not have understood the reason for the candle extinguishing after some time.

Readers to Reflect:

What do you think about the traditional questions on ‘air’ found in primary textbooks? Do
you think children can understand and answer the following?
1. Write three properties of air.
2. What is air made of?
3. What is the effect of the following activities on air?
- Burning of wood
- Movement of vehicles on road
- Planting of trees.

What kinds of questions do you think we can ask children at different stages of primary
school to help them understand about air and what observations can they make?

2.2 Water Cycle

The following excerpt, on the 'water cycle' in “Let's look around and learn” the EVS textbook
formerly used for Class III (NCERT, 2002) shows that though the language might look
deceptively simple each word is heavily loaded with abstract concepts.










Lesson 5 : Journey of Water
"The sea is my home. I have smaller homes also like ponds and lakes. When I get heated by
the hot rays of the Sun, I change into 'water vapour'. Vapour is my 'gaseous' form.…

Now I start moving upwards as I become very light. There are many tiny particles of dust and
smoke in the air above. When I come in contact with these particles the vapours get cooled. I
now take the form of small 'droplets'. These droplets keep 'floating' in the air.

When the droplets come closer to each other they take the shape of the clouds. When the
drops become heavier, I come back to the earth in the form of rain." (p.40-41)
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It may seem like a story but it deals with concepts which children do not understand, and only
compels teachers to assume that ‘gaseous form’, ‘water vapour’, evaporation, condensation,
change of state of water, etc. can be dealt with at this stage. It is important for teachers to
value their own experiences regarding children’s learning and use assessment exercises to
gives space to children's ideas. If they repeat memorised responses, it only creates an illusion
that they have understood the idea. Moreover, to understand that vapour moves upwards the
child needs to understand ‘density’ of cold and hot air, to reason why hot air rises and so on.

Readers to Reflect:

Do you think concepts like 'density' or ‘condensation’ can be understood by children of this
age? How do we expect them to think about convection of ‘water vapour’, which they do not
observe? Indeed, even after seeing a classroom demonstration of evaporation of water heated
in a bowl, children aged 7-8 years had this to say:
“Water has disappeared.”
((|-i ª|¤¤ t| ª¤|)
“The bowl has absorbed the water.”
(+º|·i - -||-i -= ln¤|)
“The fire drank the water.”
(~|ª - -||-i -|i ln¤|)
“Water has changed into air.”
((|-i t¤| ¤- ª¤|)

What do you think about these responses of children? How and at which stage do you think
should the ‘water cycle’ be introduced in school?

There is a lot of research being conducted across the world on what children think about matter
and the particles that a substance is made of. For instance, a major study in New Zealand
(Osborne and Cosgrove, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 20 (9), p 825-838, 1983)
found that forty five per cent children at 15 years said that when a washed plate dried up, the
‘water changed into oxygen and hydrogen in the air’ while ten per cent said ‘the water did not
exist as anything’, and only forty five per cent chose the correct option that ‘the water goes into
the air as small bits of water’. By the age 16 about seventy per cent moved towards the correct
response but twenty five per cent still held the ‘water changed into oxygen and hydrogen’
theory, while about five per cent still felt water did not exist as anything. Notice that even the
question asked in the study does not use terms like ‘evaporate’ but instead uses words closer to
children’s language, such as ‘small bits of water’. Then why do we force terms and concepts on
children at a much younger age, when we know they are not yet ready to understand them?

2.3 How Do We Govern Ourselves? A Good Question, Indeed!

The NCF-2005 has reviewed the teaching of the area of social science traditionally called
‘civics’ and even changed its name to Social and Political Life. The colonial idea of teaching
children to be ‘good’, obedient citizens, who need to know how to be governed, but do not
develop a more critical understanding of the social and political realities of their lives, has
been abandoned. The traditional teaching of ‘government formation’ or the Constitution to
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young children is boring and meaningless, with all kinds of facts about processes, which are
too complex and far removed from them.

What We Teach
Let us look at what we routinely teach, what students learn and what we evaluate about the
notion of governance. For example, the passages from “Let's look around and learn” - EVS
Textbook for Class V (NCERT, 2004) seem to be quite disconnected with the way children
even in Class VIII think about these concepts.





















What they learn
Discussions with some children studying in Class VIII in a rural school show that even at the
age of 14 years of age, they understand this concept in the following ways:

'Tell us : how does someone become a Prime Minister?'
'The people vote.
'Then?'
'When both sides are equal, the President will vote. The President will select a person from
amongst them and make the person Prime Minister.….

“Can you tell us what Parliament is?”
“It makes laws and corrects mistakes.”
“The 500 odd people who are members of the Parliament have all won elections to reach
there. Do they all belong to one party or to different parties?”
“One party.”
“All 500 of them?”
“Yes.”
“At present which party do the members of Parliament belong to?”
“Congress”
“All of them?”
“Yes”
Lesson 16: How Do We Govern Ourselves
Union Government
...According to our Constitution, the whole power lies in the hands of the people. General
Elections are held after every five years in which people elect their representatives…For
elections to the Lok Sabha, the whole country has been divided into electoral constituencies.
In every constituency, more than one candidate can contest. These candidates can be
representatives of any political party or can even be independent candidates...
State Government
...Every State also has a government. The process of formation of State Government starts
with elections to the Legislative Assembly…The Council of Ministers under the leadership of
the Chief Minister of the State assists the Governor in taking care of the State affairs. In each
State the number of the members of the Legislative Assembly is decided according to the
population in the State...
Lok Sabha
...The majority group in the Lok Sabha elects its leader. The President appoints the leader of
the majority group as the Prime Minister. If one group does not have the majority, a number
of groups can get together to form the majority….The Union Cabinet is constituted under the
leadership of the Prime Minister. The whole administration is run under the control of the
Cabinet. The ministers in the Cabinet are taken from both the Houses."(p. 196)...
54
“All right, how did the President choose the Prime Minister from these 500 members?”
“These 500 people cast their vote.”

Discussion with another child aged 14 years:
“Who all are in the government, can you tell?”
Silence ....
“Okay – have you heard of the CM? Who is a CM?”
Silence .....
“Where is a State Government located? Where is its capital?”
Silence .....
“All right – which government is the bigger government – the Central Government or the
State Government?”
“Central Government.”
“That’s good. Why is it bigger?”
“Because it is the government of the Centre.”
“Where is the Centre? Where does the Central Government work?”
Silence .....
“Which government sits in Delhi?”
“State Government.”
“Okay – tell us who is the PM at present. How did he become the PM?.”
“Through the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.”
“Okay – but can you explain how this happened?”
“Someone will vote – someone will say : make this person the PM – someone will say no
don't make. If more than half say that he can be the PM, then he will become.”
“Fine. Tell us, who all are there in the Lok Sabha? Do they all belong to one party?”
“Yes – they do.”

What we ask to evaluate their learning!
Many adults, even many among us, perhaps would not be able to answer the usual questions
asked in primary school:

• What is common in the election of the PM of India and the CM of a State?
• Who does the President appoint as the Prime Minister?
• Who can be appointed as ministers in the cabinet? (EVS textbook for Class V NCERT,
2003, p.198)

Readers to Reflect:

Why do we ask such questions and what learning do we expect to assess through these? The
discussions quoted here were with children in Class VIII - older, more aware and better read
than primary children. Can you appreciate the situation of much younger children in Class V
in dealing with the ideas and information related to the formation and functioning of the
government? Conversations with children help us see the evolving and struggling thoughts of
children. We realise that ideas such as 'political parties' ‘majority party’ and the making of a
Prime Minister are vaguely developed in their minds.

To fully develop their learning potential - the ability to deduce, to synthesise different kinds
of information, to put together a coherent picture, to analyse and check the inconsistency in a
line of reasoning, to trigger their interest and direct their curiosity towards real events around
them – they need to be encouraged and supported much more. Moreover, the choice of
55
‘content’ must take into account possible ways of teaching in schools, that are related to the
experiences and intuitive concepts at that age. The new NCERT syllabus has been developed
in the light of all this.

2.4 How do children understand maps?

Children in primary school begin to form their own ideas about the organisation of space and
its use, which they can present in their drawings and sketches. This ability can be
strengthened by inviting them to draw more and more of what they see and imagine. They
will need to be gradually made conscious of how their ‘maps’ will evolve differently from
their ‘drawings’: while in drawings they will use their creative imagination and even fantasy
to show their own original thinking, in maps they need to develop an ability to understand
‘perspective’ (how something looks when seen from different positions) and how to represent
realistic situations through standard conventions. Discussions on what they have drawn will
help them understand how we represent ‘far and near’, ‘above and below’, ‘in front and
behind’, ‘this side and that side’, ‘big and small’, ‘more and less’, boundaries and units in the
two dimensional drawings on paper. It is important that what they draw and discuss should be
based on space they can visualise and name in their own way.

It has been observed that young children do not visualise the continuous space of states,
countries, continents, the world, in a well developed form. Children need to engage and
struggle with these units of ‘space’, their dimensions and relations. For example, a child in
Class VI, reading the map of India, paused where the name Rajasthan was written, and
wondered if that was also India. When we moved a finger across the international boundary
to what is Nepal, and asked, “Are we in India or outside it?” - The child said “We are in
India.”. The child put his finger on the boundary between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh,
thereby touching a little bit both”. “But this is Madhya Pradesh”, we told him. He asked,
“Does it not come in Rajasthan?” “No” we said. “Not even a little bit?” he persisted. “No, not
even a little bit” we had to confess!

Similarly, in going over the physical map of the country, middle school children (of age 11-
15 years) have been seen to trace the course of the river to the coast and then continue tracing
it down the coast line and up the coast line in the other direction! ‘Where is land and where is
water?’- you may ask them - and as you move your fingers from the land mass to the oceans,
asking ‘are we still on land?’, children would go on saying “yes, we are”.

Many such experiences and studies indicate that children need more opportunities to engage
concretely with the representation of large spaces on paper, to develop concepts that help
them comprehend and use conventional maps. If we force them to only memorise map-based
facts for exams, they will not be able, as is the case with most educated adults today, to
engage with even the most commonly used road directions or location maps they encounter in
everyday life.

As part of this report we had undertaken a discussion and exercises on map making with
children of an elementary school living in a residential colony near Jamia Milla Islamia in
Delhi. The colony consists of two parallel roads with four by-lanes cutting at right angles.
The children were encouraged to use their own symbols and show at least the following
landmarks on their map:
- Their own house
- S.K's house
56
- Faculty of Education
- Faculty of Law.

The following maps were drawn by children of different ages: Map I (a 13 year old girl
Ainee), Map II (a 10 year old boy Hamza), Map III (an 8 year old girl Uzera).


Map-I

Map-II
57


Map-III
Uzera (Map III), the youngest, is not yet able to visualise and imagine things in space. She
also does not yet distinguish between the actual experience of walking in a given space and
the abstract ‘aerial view’ of that space. She insists that - “We go ahead to reach Mahvish's
house, then we keep on walking to reach SK's house, so the road must go on and on ahead.”
How can the road turn back when we walk ahead? If she walks to a house on the left hand
side of a road, she shows the road also turning towards that side.

Hamza (Map II) has marked some of the landmarks correctly in terms of alignment and
orientation. He has interestingly drawn road ‘Y’ turning away instead of turning back. He is
also not yet able to visualise that the road ‘Y’ turns back and argues “We keep walking away
from SK's house in order to reach the bakery.” He cannot imagine that a building which takes
him so long to reach is actually at the back of his house and so close in space. There were
other children of this age group who held the same view. He too has not yet developed an
aerial perspective.

Ainee (Map I) has drawn and identified the landmarks correctly in terms of their orientation
and relative positions. She is able to imagine and draw the parallel road and has developed an
aerial perspective, in the sense that the actual route between the two may be longer but the
places can be quite close in space.

Children need to be gradually made conscious of the differences between a realistic
representation and a map. We see from their drawings the difference in development of the
idea of ‘perspective’ at different ages. However, textbooks use maps appropriate for adults,
which children cannot understand. Even 8 year old Uzera’s textbook uses the conventional
58
map of India and neighbouring countries, while she is still grappling with icons (Map III) and
does not differentiate between a picture and a map.

Younger children can be introduced to mapping by helping them draw the map of their
classroom or any small area and slowly progress to drawing and reading maps of bigger
areas. In drawing the map of the classroom also, which they can see and draw, children will
need help in understanding ‘perspective’ that is from where we look at things, the use of
symbols, location in terms of relative position, size of objects, etc.

This is how two Class III children have drawn different maps of the same classroom. In the
following map, the child has drawn the fans in the middle of the room. He clearly cannot yet
decide whether the room is to be viewed from the ‘top’, ‘front’ or side. He has used icons for
the objects in class.






59

The following conversation with 11-year-old Zahra, who has the conventional map of India
in her Class VI textbook, gives us more insights into children’s thinking. Incidentally, she is
studying in one of the well known schools of Delhi and also manages to score high marks in
traditional questions about maps.
Teacher – “How do you travel to Shahjahanpur”
Zahra – “By car”
Teacher – “In which state is Shahjahanpur located.
Zahra – “In U.P (points to U.P. in the textbook map).”
Teacher – “When you go to Shahjahanpur from U.P., how do you get to know that
you have reached?
Zahra – “Papa knows. It is also written on boards. There are boundaries.”
She draws to show:
—. —.— International boundary
----. ----. ---- National boundary
---. ----.----- District boundary
Teacher – “Where are these boundaries made?”
Zahra – “On the ground.”
Teacher – “Have you ever seen these boundaries?”
Zahra – “No, I never bothered to see. But now when I go to Shajahanpur I will
look down to see the district boundary.”
Teacher – “Is there any boundary drawn between India and Nepal?”
Zahra – “Yes, the international boundary.”

The above conversation shows that Zahra is not clear about the use of conventional symbols
in maps. She also does not have a conceptual understanding about what a state or district is.
The ‘skill’ of drawing and reading of maps cannot be separated from the development of
concepts; rather they must be linked to help the child form a mental map of different spaces.

Readers to Reflect:

After reading the above discussion think about the following maps and questions from the
chapter “Our Country – Its Surface” of Let's look around and learn” EVS Textbook for Class
V (NCERT, 2004).

60


Can the children learn about the different surfaces from these maps? How can the children
answer the following questions given in the book by looking at the maps?
- What is the climate of the coastal areas?
- Find out why desert areas are hot during the day and cool during the night.
- Why does water freeze on the high mountains?

Now look at the following map given on page 153 “Let’s Look Around and Learn” EVS
textbook for Class V (NCERT, 2004), and also the excerpt following this map.











Lesson 14 : Our Country – Its Surface

Some of the rivers that originate from the Himalayas are the Sindhu, the Ganga and the
Brahmaputra. Many of their tributaries also start from the Himalayas.
Let us locate these rivers in the map on page 153. To the south of the northern mountains,
we can see a very big plain. This is called the Northern Plain.
Let us look at the map given on page 153 and find out the spread of the Northern Plain. This
has been shown in green colour. This Plain spreads from Rajasthan in the west to Assam in
the east. The surface of this land is almost plain. (p. 153-154)
61
Do you think that the children will be able to make any linkages between the map and the
excerpt? Will the children be able to ‘read’ from the map what is explained in the excerpt?
Are we passing only information to the children, which they will memorise without
understanding?

2.5 Changes in the Syllabus: Focus on Children’s Learning

The new EVS syllabus has been substantially changed to allow adequate space for children’s
learning to develop fully and deeply, in all its variety of aspects. More importantly, some
concepts that cannot be dealt with by them at this stage have been excluded. For instance, just
as children cannot grasp ‘properties of air’ (in Section 2.1 and 2.2), they can also not
understand abstract relationships between different ‘states of water’. The concept of ‘water
cycle’ is not included. Nor are the concepts of work, energy or force, which has been well
researched and known to be difficult to comprehend even at the age of 12 years.

2.5.1. Let us see how the syllabus has been changed in the case of maps.

Old Syllabus (Guidelines and Syllabi for Primary Stage, NCERT, 2001)

Theme: Shelter (p. 48)

Class III Class IV Class V
• Location of places (in the
village/town) through use
of symbols and map, not
to scale
• Locating important places
in the neighborhood with
the help of a map using
non-standard
symbols/indicators
• Reading maps (state.
country) and locating places
on the globe
• Need for scale and standard
symbols on a map

New Syllabus (Syllabus for Classes at the Elementary Level, NCERT, 2006)

Theme: Shelter (p. 106)
Class III
Questions Key
Concepts/Issues
Suggested
Resources
Suggested Activities
Mapping my
neighbourhood
How big is your school?
What kind of a building is
it? Can you draw a picture
of your school and your
classroom? Do you know
your way around your
neighbourhood? Can we
explain to someone how to
reach the post office or the
bus stand from our house?
Neighbourhood,
mapping and
representation in
two dimensions.
Directions.
Survey of
different parts of
the school,
survey of the
neighbourhood
Estimating distances,
marking locations of
places and
drawing/mapping from
different perspectives, like
from the top, from the
front etc. Drawing a map
of the route from your
house to the nearest shop.

Theme: Shelter (p. 117-118) Class IV
Mapping your
neighbourhood
Who are your neighbours?
Do you have any of the
Introduction to
the concept of
giving directions
with respect to
Child's
experiences,
enquiry,
observation and
Discussion, enquiry from
friends and neighbours;
counting the number of
steps and estimation of
62
following near my house –
a school, grocery shop,
market, well, river or
pond? Where are they with
respect to your house?
any landmark;
also a
preliminary
mapping process,
further use of
symbols, use of a
scale.
previous
knowledge of
routes. Local
map/chart of the
school and its
neighbourhood.
distance for making a
preliminary map.

Theme: Travel (p. 133)
Class V

Questions Key Concepts/Issues Suggested Resources Suggested Activities
Ride on a space-craft
What do you see in
the sky – at daytime?
And at night?
How many of the
things that you see in
the sky are man-
made? Have you
heard of people
travelling in a
spacecraft?
The sky in the day and
at night.
Basic exposure to the
aerial view of the
earth and what India
looks like from there.
Story of Rakesh
Sharma/Kalpana
Chawla
Observation from a
terrace to draw its
aerial view.
Imagine yourself in a
spacecraft giving an
interview to the PM
about what you see
from there.

The theme on ‘Travel’ in the new syllabus was developed specially to help the child on the a
journey of ideas, of expanding social and physical spaces, into newer and unfamiliar terrains
of often mind-boggling and no less fascinating diversity. In Classes III-IV children are
encouraged to look at their own journeys, if any, and to see how older people in their family
may have travelled in earlier times; they also read accounts of how people travel today in a
desert, through forests, in the hills, or in big cities. Moreover, it suggests a story as a
‘resource’, to bring into the classroom the experiences of a child of a migrating family and
the problems she most face in the process of her schooling. Schools could use stories, posters,
plays, films, visits, and other media as ‘resources’. In Class V the theme ‘Travel’ takes
children through the ‘rough and tough’ terrain of the Himalayas with the story of
Bachhendri Pal, who hoists the national flag after a difficult expedition, while they are
encouraged to design a flag for their own school. The theme also takes them on a ‘ride on a
spacecraft’ into space, from where for the first time they see the aerial view of the earth.

The exercises of looking at aerial views are developed gradually, both in EVS and
Mathematics, through different views of the school and other objects, where different
perspectives get introduced. This is linked to the concept of mapping, which they begin in
Class III through a basic two-dimensional representation of their classroom, so that by the
time they reach Class V they can read and draw simple aerial views of their locality or city.
Moreover in Class III they are introduced to a map of Agra with familiar icons with a
narrative which describes the experience of two children visiting the city. This story helps
children relate to the abstract iconic map and to look for the locations described.

How would you compare maps in the old textbooks and traditional questions in examinations
with some of these exercises (from the new NCERT textbooks in mathematics and EVS), in
the context of developing children’s understanding of maps?

63
Example- 1 Perspective (Math Magic Class III, NCERT, 2006 (p. 2)
(a) Here are some pictures. Find out from where you have to look to see the things this way.


Staircase Staircase Table




Chair Pencil Bus


(b) Draw the top views of a few things and ask your friends to guess what they are.

Example-2: Mapping–Trip to Agra (Math Magic Class III, NCERT, 2006, p. 56-57)

Marie and Baichung are going with their family to Agra. They get down at Agra Cantt.
Railway Station and take a rickshaw to the Taj Mahal. After 3 hours, they start for Agra Fort,
again in a rickshaw. In the afternoon they take a bus to go to Fatehpur Sikri.(Math-Magic
Texbook for Class III, NCERT 2006 p. 56-57)

64
Example-3 Mapping (Math Magic Class III, NCERT, 2006, p. 74-75)



2.5.2 Change in the syllabus in the area of ‘governance’

Old Syllabus (Guidelines and Syllabi for Primary Stage, NCERT, 2001)

Theme Shelter (p. 48)
Class III Class IV Class V
— — Buildings in the community–
school, Panchayat Ghar,
Health Centre, Post Office,
Police Station – their major
roles

Routine topics from the area of civics such as government formation are not included in the
new syllabus. What is included, is a more concrete introduction to the notion of institutions
that children experience, through themes such as the following:

New Syllabus (Syllabus for Classes at the Elementary Level, NCERT, 2006)

Theme : Family and Friends (p. 115-116) Sub Theme : Plants
Class IV
Questions Key Concepts/Issues Suggested Resources Suggested Activities
To whom do trees
belong?
Which plants/trees
around you are looked
after by people – by
whom? Which are
not? To whom do they
belong? Who eats the
Neighbourhood and
its plants; wild and
domestic plants;
Fruits eaten by
people living in
forests.
Cutting trees.
Local knowledge,
information about
domestic and wild
plants (NBT books).
Listing of some
common trees in the
neighbourhood;
discussion about
ownership of trees;
fruits that are not
eaten by us.
65
fruit of trees that grow
wild?
Special occasions
When do many
people eat together?
What food is eaten?
Who cooks it? How
is it served?
Do you get a mid day
meal in school? What
items? Who provides
the mid day meal?
Community eating;
Mid day meal
(where applicable).
Cultural diversity in
foods associated
with special
occasions like
festivals, family
celebrations/
ceremonies etc.
Boarding school.
Visit to a langar or
other such places,
occasions, talking to
people who cook on
such occasions.
Narratives about
hostel food/pantry
car of train.
Discussion on
occasions at which
there is community
eating; Listing of the
different foods eaten
at different occasions;
drawing and
descriptions of the
large utensils used on
such occasions

Theme : Shelter (p. 130)
Class V
Questions Key Concepts/Issues Suggested
Resources
Suggested Activities
Times of emergency
Have you heard of houses
being damaged by
floods/earthquakes/cyclones/
fires/storms/lightning? What
would it have felt like? Who
are the people who come to
help? What can you do to
help others before the doctor
comes? Where can we look
for help at such times? Who
runs such institutions?
Disaster and trauma of
losing one’s home;
community help;
hospitals, police
stations, ambulance,
shelters, fire station,
first aid.
Newspaper
clippings.
Discussion, finding out
about the hospital,
police station, fire
station, etc.

2.6 Integrating ‘Subjects’? - Moving from ‘Topics’ to Themes

What do we understand by general science and social studies? When we think of these
‘subjects’ in school we clearly have in mind some body of knowledge and also typical ways
of acquiring that knowledge that we associate with each of these. These school subjects have
evolved through their own complicated histories and are today quite different from the way
sciences or social sciences are practised in the real world. Therefore, for an integrated
approach we do not proceed with lists of ‘topics’ from different ‘subjects’, but instead
propose new ‘themes’ that allow for a connected and inter-related understanding to develop.
This requires moving beyond traditional boundaries of disciplines and looking at priorities in
a shared way.

The new NCERT syllabus has an enabling format, which indicates the key themes and sub
themes along with their possible connections. It consciously begins with key questions rather
than key concepts, which can trigger the child’s thinking in new directions and ‘scaffold’ her
learning process. It also indicates how adults can stimulate and actively support children’s
learning, rather than restrict or throttle it, as often happens when children are forced to
memorise information they just cannot understand.

66
2.6.1 Themes in the New Primary Syllabus

The new syllabus is woven around six broad themes given below; the predominant theme on
‘Family and Friends’ is made of four sub-themes:

1 Family and Friends – 1.1 Relationships; 1.2 Work and Play; 1.3 Animals; 1.4 Plants
2 Food; 3 Shelter; 4 Water; 5 Travel; 6 Things We Make and Do

The syllabus-web moves outward over the three years and gradually extends the child’s
understanding of her world, beginning from the immediate ‘self’ to include her family, the
neighbourhood, the locality and also the country. Thus by the time the child reaches Class V,
she is able to see her ‘self’ in the larger context – as part of a community, the country and
also, more tacitly, as located in this world. Indeed, in some flights of fancy the syllabus even
goads the young child to ride on a spacecraft and leap beyond the earth, into outer space, that
may yet not be comprehensible but is certainly fascinating for her.

Thus, for instance, the theme ‘Food’ begins in Class III with ‘cooking’, ‘eating in the
family’, about what we eat and what others eat, what animals eat, etc. It then moves on in
Class IV to how food is grown, what different plants they may have seen, how food reaches
us, etc. In Class V children discuss who grows it, the hardships farmers may face, while
staying grounded to the reality of our own pangs of hunger or the plight of people who do not
get food. In addition, ‘when food gets spoilt’ explores spoilage and preservation of food,
while changes in food habits and the crops grown are analysed through the experiences of
elders/grandparents. Finally ‘our mouth - tastes and even digests food’ sees how saliva
makes food taste sweet on chewing, while ‘food for plants’ also introduces the idea of some
curious insect-eating plants.

Class III (Syllabus)

Questions Key Concepts/Issues Suggested Resources Suggested Activities
Foods from plants
and animals
Which of these is
food – red ants,
bird’s nests, snakes,
bananas, goat’s milk,
etc.?
What plants do you
eat - what parts of
the plant? What food
do we take from
animals?
Appreciation of
cultural diversity in
food; basic ideas
about various plant
used as food; food
from animals.
Regional narratives
and stories about
‘unusual’ foods
mentioned.
Listing and discussing
about food, we eat or
do not eat; tabulating
food we take from
different plants and
animals. Observing
and drawing different
parts of plants eaten.
Eating in the family
Do all members of
your family eat the
same food? Who eats
more? Who eats last
in your family? Who
buys the food and
what is bought from
the market? Who
cooks the food in
Different eating
practices in the
family. Amount of
food varying with
gender, age, physical
activity, etc.
Cooking and
gender/caste roles in
the family;
Food for the baby,
Everyday experience,
local knowledge.
Poems/illustrations on
gender stereotyping.
Observation and
asking adults,
discussion. Listing of
food items bought
from the
market/grown at
home.
67
your family? What
do babies have for
food? When do
babies start eating
and what do they eat
other than milk?
significance of milk.

EVS must deal with real issues of, say ‘water’ or ‘food’, by connecting these to the children’s
‘real’ experiences of water and food, which are vastly varied. Whose concept of ‘water’ do
we talk about – that child’s who walks miles across the desert to see a trickle, or the one who
has her house swept away by floods every year? If a person suffers from water borne
diseases, as do an alarming majority of our children, can an EVS classroom mechanically
point out that what he drinks is ‘dirty’ water, to ‘boil’ which would actually require
impractical time and fuel. It must address with empathy the child’s real world experience, to
understand some reasons behind the supply of dirty water, sources of contamination, and
even some issues of gender, caste and class that determine how water relates to illness. There
is often a feeling that perhaps primary children are ‘too young’ to understand these issues, but
most children live these situations and have deep insights about them. Others who may live in
protected environments also need to understand ‘water’ – that it is not just what flows
through a purifying filter or at the press of a flush button, and that ‘conserving water’ or
living with ‘water scarcity’ is indeed much more challenging than making posters or giving
routine answers.

2.7 Indicators for Assessment in EVS

A broad list of indicators for assessment has been drawn up so that teachers plan tasks and
questions that deal with each of these. In the Section? we give the progress report of a child
from Class III and Class V, to show how the teacher comments and gives a grade to each
indicator. This way the child’ progress is recorded and parents also get to know what
activities are conducted in school. The teacher will need to observe at least 3-5 children each
day and keep a brief record in her register, so that by month end she has some observation
about each child. This will help in making the quarterly progress report.

1. Observation and Recording – Reporting, narrating and drawing; picture-reading,
making pictures, tables and maps.
2. Discussion – Listening, talking, expressing opinions, finding out from other
people.
3. Expression – Drawing, body movements, creative writing, sculpting, etc.
4. Explanation – Reasoning, making logical connections.
5. Classification – Categorising, grouping, contrasting and comparing.
6. Questioning – Expressing curiosity, critical thinking, developing good questions.
7. Analysis – Predicting, making hypotheses and inferences
8. Experimentation – Improvisation, making things and doing experiments.
9. Concern for Justice and Equality – Sensitivity towards the disadvantaged and
differently abled.
10. Cooperation – taking responsibility and initiative, sharing and working together.


68
Section III

3. EVS Classrooms that Enhance Learning

What does it mean to learn EVS? What kinds of learning can we expect to happen in an EVS
classroom? NCF 2005 promotes an integrated approach to learning in elementary school,
where textbooks and syllabi cut across traditional boundaries of disciplines. In this section we
shall look closely at what happens in real classrooms, and how and why ‘learning’ happens in
some cases while not much learning takes place in others. We shall also see how teachers
assess learning in students in terms of the indicators for EVS (Section 2.8) and record and
reflect on what learning is happening.

Learning in EVS, necessarily requires a rich and varied assessment system. If there are only
information-based questions with short answers, teachers will not see why they should do
anything else in the class that does not get assessed. With the help of classroom observations
we will be able to see how teacher's questions can trigger learning and enquiry. Questions can
be used potentially to make children think and engage with concepts. The following examples
highlight the limited role that recall-based, short answer questions play. Moreover, we can
see that if the trend in examinations is on getting one ‘correct’ canonical answer, normally no
need for that given in the textbook, then classrooms would only focus on children
reproducing that. How can teachers encourage children’s own expressions as part of their
learning, using more sensitive approaches towards assessment and a better understanding of
children’s development?

We look at the following three EVS sessions :
1. A Visit to the Stable – Learning about Horses from their Caretakers
2. Papa Can Cook – Questioning Stereotypes and Nurturing Sensitivity
3. Hard or Soft? – Experience Helps Children to Understand Classification.

3.1 A Visit to a Stable - Learning about Horses from their Caretakers

The world 'visit' word often raises eyebrows in schools, which are reluctant to take children
out and are not convinced that learning does happen outside. EVS is described as learning
about things around us, yet we do not give children opportunities to explore their own
environment collectively, where the teacher can also assess and enhance their learning. For
instance a Class II government school teacher reflects on her visit to the stable near the
school:
“In the name of horses, schools and textbooks might merely make a mention but my
students went much deeper and wider – they saw them eating, sleeping and getting a bath;
they prepared questions to ask the caretakers of horses and learnt how to make ‘useful’
questions. They made guesses about horses. They wrote their questions, spoke to different
people and collected information; they discussed, differed and argued, and made oral
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presentations; they even wrote some reports. All these are very important elements of
learning and knowledge construction. This visit was full of fun for all of them. All the girls sat
on the chariot. Nisha even enacted how a bride and a groom sit on it. Children narrated
interesting instances of their imagination.”
The following is also an excerpt from her diary:

“After the Morning-Message activity, we sang a song ‘Around Us’ (aas-paas), to begin a new
unit ‘My Neighborhood’. The song has incidents on a post office, stable, milkman, postman,
stable-keeper, etc. I asked the children if they knew where horses live.
Rakhi - In a jungle.
Teacher - Have you seen a horse’s house somewhere around?
Neelu - Yes Didi, it is close to Kavita’s home. When we take a turn from there, we
reach the bus stand, we see there lot of horses.
Teacher - A horses’ home is called a stable. Today we will visit a stable.

After listening to this, the happiness that they felt reflected in could be seen on their faces.
All of them asked - when will you take us?
Teacher - Whenever we visit a place, we first prepare for it. So first we will make
preparations for the stable visit and then go.

I then divided the students in five groups of four each. While grouping them I ensured that
every group had one girl who could write and one who could read. Every group had four
roles to be played - a writer, an interviewer, a reporter and a helper. I had already made chits
for every group and for every role, so that they could remember both the things.

Teacher - What will we do in the stable?
Saroj - We will see the horses.
Teacher - What else can we do?
The class became very quiet. So I said that we could talk to the people who took care of
those horses. We could ask about the horses’ food, sleeping time etc. I was trying to activate
their familiar associations and schema through these ideas. After this, I asked them to
develop questions in their groups. The writer had to note down at least five questions. I sat
with every group, when they discussed and made questions. Every group then presented
their questions.

Group I — Do horses bathe in the morning or evening? What time do they take a bath?
When do they sleep? What do horses eat?
Group II — Do horses take a bath? What are the kinds of clothes that horses wear?
Where do all mares(ghori) go?

Group III — When are horses taken out for a walk? When are they given a bath?

Group IV — How do you take care of horses ? When do horses give rides to people?

Group V — How many boy children do horses have? How many girl children do horses
have?(Ghora-Ghori ke ladke kitne hain? Ghora-Ghori ki ladkiyan kitnee
hain?)

When we walked to the stable, the students told me about everything that they were
observing - goats, fruits, hens, stones, traffic signals — everything gave rise to discussion.
The traffic signal reminded Khusboo of various shapes so everybody started observing
shapes.

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In our society a stable has never become a ‘source of learning’ for anyone. As a teacher it is
my responsibility to critically choose what can be a good learning experience for my
students. Students visited the stable, counted the horses, spoke to the workers in groups
and found out about many things. Not only my students but I too learnt many new things
about horses. The students found out that the stable only kept mares and that mares eat
potatoes, onion, garlic, ginger and gram. Mares are dressed for wedding processions and
are given a bath once in three days. They can sleep while sitting, and there was only one
pony in the stable. Just one visit led to so much learning in a short time! After coming back,
all the groups discussed and made presentations, but I needed to work with them on their
presentation skills.

Involvement of the community in the learning process is widely discussed and appreciated,
but it is hardly done. When the stable-workers explained things to the students they had
become teachers. After all only a stable-worker can tell about horses. He works with them
day and night. Community activities should form the basis of a school, therefore I gave
importance to local people, their activities, their animals, and created an opportunity for the
students to interact with their local environment.

There were definitely problems that I faced. The interviewers (students who had to ask
questions) felt shy while asking questions and did not ask properly. Some students could not
read the questions they had developed on their own as they cannot read. The helper in
every group herself required help. But as a teacher I was prepared for this crisis. They are
just learning to read and write so some problems were inevitable, because the activity
involved a lot of writing and reading their own writing. However, this experience actually
strengthened and improved their reading and writing skills.”

The Class II teacher assessed her students' learning through the following:
1. Observing students' participation
2. Analysing questions developed by the students before the visit
3. Students' oral and written presentations
4. Students' drawings and acting.

3.1.1. Some comments from the teacher's observation records:

• As soon as we entered, Farah made a quick observation that all the horses were white in
colour except one. She also noticed that there was only one pony in the stable.

• While shapes were taught in the class Khushboo could not identify them, however during
the visit today, the traffic signal triggered an interest in various shapes. She pointed out
many of them and kept observing shapes throughout her way to the stable. She also
communicated it to her peers.

• Group- work : Group IV members could not coordinate many things. The team had
developed good questions, but the interviewer could not ask some questions properly.
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Even during the enactment they kept laughing all the time and as a result they missed
out many points.

• Group III members asked their questions very confidently. They were interacting with the
stable workers. Their recorder Shweta also wrote the conversation diligently. Although
she struggled with many spellings like :·||· -|a '+|+i' '-|-' '¤a'`

3.1.2. Teacher's assessment of children's questions

Initially children were reluctant as it was their first opportunity to frame questions in a
classroom. There was a good variety though all groups made similar questions. However,
none of the groups made any questions on the health of the horses.

I had expected such questions, because children ask such questions at home, but they
could not ask them while in the classroom. I have to develop their questioning skills.

3.1.3. Teacher's record on drawings and acting

Two groups enacted scenes but only one could communicate well. Seema showed very well
how a stable keeper gives a bath to the horses. Meenu patiently acted like a horse
throughout the scene.

Two groups drew pictures of the stable. Their drawings showed that they had minutely
observed various things like — the placement of a bucket, fodder, clothes hung on a wall,
etc. However it was interesting that group II showed that all horses were of same shape and
size, whereas group V showed variation in horses’ sizes, colour and health.

3.1.4. Teacher's assessment of group presentations

The teacher had kept a record of all the group reports. One group prepared the following
report (Translated from Hindi):
“We had asked questions to know about mares. Mares eat gram, potato, garlic, ginger,
onion. The stable worker gives them a bath once in 3 days. They also have a young one in
the stable. A horse sleeps while sitting. A horse also gets stomach-ache because it likes
to have a lot of gram. Only mares go for a wedding procession so they only keep mares.
Mares make money by going for wedding processions, so stable workers earn their
income.”

The teacher had made the following comments on the above group report:

The group had prepared a coherent and comprehensive report. The report had a logical flow
of ideas. It was very heartening to see that Class II children could write such a long report
about their visit. They had made observations, like horses can sleep even while sitting,
which I myself did not know. Children had made a logical connection that mares are kept in a
stable because they are the source of income of the stable workers.

When the students made a presentation, the teacher assessed them on the basis of logical
flow, articulation and organisation of the ideas. She also assessed their written reports, on the
basis of originality of ideas and expression. She ignored spelling and syntax errors during this
EVS assessment; though in her language lessons she kept those errors in mind. She wrote in
her diary, “If I plan carefully, it ensures better learning.”
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Children are capable of much more than what our traditional EVS classrooms demand. In the
above example of a ‘Visit to a Stable’, students of Class II were able to actively participate in
the process of learning despite their limited reading and writing capabilities. In fact, the
activity itself gave them meaning and motivation to write and read their own writing. They
learnt to make meaningful questions, to respect and empathise with the people they spoke
to, to organise the information they collected, categorise it and present it both orally and
through their reports. It is a demanding activity that triggers tremendous learning —
children are encouraged to use many of their skills and concepts to generate new ‘knowledge’
and deep understanding.

3.2 Papa Can Cook: Questioning Stereotypes and Nurturing Sensitivity
The following are two interactions with Class III children on the theme of ‘Food and Gender’
from Looking Around (NCERT, 2006). In these interactions we can see how classroom
discussions help children to think and articulate about gender stereotypes. Asking questions
like “Why can't father cook?” are important as children need opportunities to review and
interrogate can also be retained their biases with regard to gender roles.
First Session:

Thirty seven children of the class were divided into five groups. They were asked to look at
the above two pictures (p.92) of EVS textbook Class III and compare the families shown, in
terms of the following points.
• Who are the characters shown in the two families and how are they related to Venu and
Rani?
• What kind of work is each member of the family doing?
• Do you see anything special or strange about the work each person is doing?
The teacher also sat for a few minutes with each group and helped probe further by asking.
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Teacher – “Why do you think Rani’s mother is not reading the newspaper while Venu’s
mother is doing so?”
Shoaib – “Probably she doesn’t know how to read.”
“Look she is carrying grass on her head.”
Aafreen – “She might not be getting time from her household chores.”
Israfil – “She is not reading at this moment. She might read later.”
These responses show that children may not yet be rigid in their ideas about gendered roles.
They are trying to grapple with reasons for these roles, as seen around them. But some
children seemed quite clear about their choices.
Sohail – “Why is Venu’s father cleaning the floor? This is not his work. Girls do this
kind of work.”
He further said: “I like Rani’s family as she is serving food to her father and brother.”
Some of the children in his group did not agree with him and one responded as follows.
Madiha – “All the members are eating together in Venu's family, which I like. In my
family also, we all sit together and eat.”
One advantage of the small group discussion was that a child like Sohail was confronted with
a different perspective which might make him think differently, if more such opportunities of
debate and discussion are provided in class.
Without worrying about a 'noisy' class the teacher gave opportunities for a lively discussion
and then asked them to fill the following worksheet (p.93). The question in the book “Who
does not help in cooking food in the family and why?” again resulted in animated responses.
Zohra – “My father is not able to help as he goes out for his work.”
Nosheen – ‘I don’t help as I go to school.”
Asrar – “I don’t help, because I am not a girl.”
Second Session:-
In the second interaction the teacher enacted a five-minute scene of cooking roti and subzi
and serving it to them.
Teacher – “What was I doing in the scene? Whose acting was I doing?”
Students – “You were ‘Mummy’ in the scene. You were preparing food ‘Roti Sabzi’
for your children. Then you gave food to Shirin and Israr.”
Teacher – “But I was ‘Papa’ in this drama.”
Students – “How can you become Papa, you are a girl?”
Teacher – “But in a drama, people are allowed to play different roles. So I was doing
Papa’s acting.
Students – “You were not Papa in this drama, because you were cooking.”
– “Papas don’t cook.”
Teacher – “Why can’t papa cook?”
Students – (Different voices) “Because he goes out to work.”
– “Because women and girls are supposed to do the housework.”
– “Because he comes only in the evening and mother is at home all day.”
Teacher – “What will happen if mother falls ill?”
Students – “We will have to eat noodles.”
– “We will go to a hotel and eat.”
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Teacher – “But why can’t papa cook? How is food prepared?” (using hand gestures
for preparing food) “What is there so special about women, that only they
can cook?”
Students. – “Women can cook and not men, because women know more about
cooking.”
– “Ma’am food is prepared with hands.”
Teacher – “Men also have hands.”
Students – “They can cook but don’t”, “Yes they ‘can’ cook.”
Teacher – ‘Some of you wrote that your sisters help in cleaning’
“You can also help in cleaning.”
Students – “I help in cleaning.”
– “I don’t, girls are supposed to do this work!”
– “Men go to office for work.”
Teacher – “I also go to office!”
Students – “But you are a teacher.”
Teacher – “I too worked in an office or some years. I used to come back at night
very tired and my husband used to be back much earlier. Who should be
cooking dinner for the children? I used to be really very very tired.”
Students – “If your husband knew cooking, he could have prepared dinner for the
family”
– “Men can learn to cook.”
– “Some men cook in hotels.”
“Life must be easy for their families! …….”
There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers in the above discussion as these responses are related
to the experiences of children. The teacher exposed the children to different possibilities and
alternatives, which triggered the process of comparing different situations and suggesting
hypotheses and inferences.
3.2.1 Some comments from the teacher's observation record
Sohail seems to have already made some moral judgments about gender roles. He was
adamant that a father should not sweep the floor or even cook. One of his responses was “I
don’t (help in cleaning); girls are supposed to do this work.”
He is expressing his ideas freely and confidently without any inhibition but seems rigid. He
will need more exposure, for which I will need to present him with different perspectives and
possibilities so that he becomes more open.
Madiha makes linkages between her home and school experiences during discussion and
states her opinions confidently and categorically, like, “Papa can also cook, he can learn to
cook.” She uses logical reasoning and compares and analyses different situations while
giving explanations, which helps others in her group. She gave a new angle to the
discussion by arguing, “Men cook in hotels, why can't they cook at home too?”
3.2.2 Observations about one of the groups (Rose):
Group 'Rose' has become more open and sensitive to ideas about gender and seems to
have gained from the different perspectives of its members. The views expressed by Iqaan
which are not stereotypical like “I could have helped mother in the kitchen if I knew cooking”
were opposed by Shaheer who said “Girls do this kind of work.” Madiha's question, “Who will
help Iqaan's mother when she doesn't keep well?” led to further comparison and analysis of
situations in the group. An interesting observation expressed by Madiha that men cook in
hotels so why can't they cook at home, helped the group to further engage in discussion and
gain newer insights about good salaries given to chefs and khansamas.
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Shaheer has now starting writing well using correct spellings and grammar. He helped
others in the group to complete their work. Zohra still needs support in spellings.
There are other examples of such sensitive issues in ‘Looking Around’, EVS Textbook for
Class IV (NCERT, 2007). There is the true story of a young girl ‘Chuskit’, who cannot walk
but dreams of going to school, and is finally able to do so with the help of her sensitive and
caring friends. The following questions encourage every child to look around and become
open to the world of individuals who have different abilities and potentials. Teachers could
make several more assessment questions from the students’ specific contexts.

• Chuskit could reach school at last. Do you think she may have faced some difficulty
inside the school? What kind? If you were Chuskit’s friend, how would you help her?
• Do you have ramps in your school on which a wheelchair can move?
• Do you know any child near your house who cannot go to school because of some
difficulty? Would you like to help such a child? How can you help?
• Look at the buildings around your house. Is there any way by which a wheelchair can go
inside the building.

3.3 Hard or Soft? – Experience Helps Children to Understand Classification

This is an illustration of group work in which students were trying to classify materials.
Students were divided into small groups. In group activities one child's doubt or inquiry can
trigger off better learning opportunities for the entire group. They learn with each other and
also learn to share responsibilities and resources. Students in a group inform each other about
procedures, discuss findings and come to conclusions. Group work also develops a feeling of
cooperation rather than competition. Researches on cooperative learning methods also
showed that students learn better and feel more positive about their performance. Grouping
students during EVS activities also helped teachers to manage big/large classes while giving
them more responsibilities.
This is an extract from a government school teacher's diary of Class II.

“I divided the students in groups of four each. There were five groups, I gave a paper to each
group on which I had drawn the following table:-
Touch me and tell me where should I be placed
(mujhe chhookar batao main kahaa jaaun)
Soft
(Mulaayam)
Hard
(Kathor)
Smooth
(Chiknee)
Rough
(Khurdura)
Soap
Sand
Cloth piece
Paper
Cotton
Desk
Stone
Cream
Oil
Wool
Polythene
Soil

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Groups had to classify the things by touching and feeling them. All of them classified soap as
smooth and sand as rough, though three groups got stuck on cotton. After much discussion
and touching it repeatedly the fourth group suggested that it was 'soft' and it was accepted
by the whole class. However, when it came to the 'desk' they were all puzzled. Nisha said-
(“Didi oopar se chhoone main to mulayam hai lekin dabtaa nahin hai”) “If you touch on top it
appears soft but it can't be pressed.”
I then addressed the entire class and asked them – is a desk soft or hard?
Ritu – Soft
Teacher – Is cotton soft or hard?
Sonia – Soft
Teacher – Is there any difference between cotton and desk?

Saroj – Yes Didi, cotton can be pressed and desk cannot be pressed.
(“Haa didi ruee dab jaatee hai aur desk to dabtaa hi nahin.”)
Teacher – Yes, because desk cannot be pressed it means that it is hard, but on the
upper surface it is smooth to touch. (“haan, desk dabtaa nahin iska matlab
yeh kathor hai lekin oopar se chhone main yeh chikna hai.)”
Nisha – Yes, Didi my hand slips on it (Haan didi, ispar mera haath phisalta hai.)

We can see that an understanding about classification is not always easy and straightforward.
They need to make fine observations, to handle objects and discuss with peers and the
teacher. Only some things can be classified in one group, for example - oil as smooth
(chikna). Classes in this context are usually not mutually exclusive. For example a piece of
cloth can be smooth as well as soft; desk can be hard, smooth and rough at the same time.
Thus a student who places desk in the 'smooth' column could be as correct as the one who
puts it under 'rough'.
“I cannot say that my students understood everything. They definitely had many questions in
their mind about classification, like Nisha asked “Didi, why can not a stone be called soft?”
Kajal asked “Didi, when soil is in the form of hard clods it can't be pressed, but when the soil
is just lying around it is very soft. So is soil hard or soft?”
Students did not get all the answers in this activity but these questions have given them a
direction to think. I will organise many activities and give opportunities to raise doubts
without expecting one single answer immediately. I have learnt that the process of learning
is more important than the end product, and that it goes through various stages. We touch
many different things but hardly discuss their characteristics. Probably schools don't even
include these things in their curriculum. However, such experiences are critical in developing
an enquiring mind, which is essential for EVS. An interaction with the world around us forms
the basis of learning and EVS”.
3.3.1 Some comments from the teacher's observation record
• Today Nisha's observation about the desk being soft triggered a discussion in the class
about the conflict in categorisation. In the past also, Nisha had raised several such
queries, which made others in the group think more.
• Gauri had started analysing things. She had tried to reason out why certain things
labelled as 'soft' can still feel different on touching, for example – cloth and cotton- wool.
• I am glad that Manpreet had also started participating in investigative activities. She
extended the activity on her own by asking whether our body is 'soft' or 'hard' as it feels
like both depending on what we touch.
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• I realised that today's activity stimulated hypothesis and prediction as I had planned.
Sama noted that soap becomes soft if it is left in water overnight. “Will a desk also
become soft if we leave it in a pond overnight?”
• Sarita and Kajal engaged well while working individually. However, they did not share
space and resources with other group members. They dominated in their respective
groups and I had to intervene repeatedly.

These excerpts from primary teachers’ reflective writings vividly show the nature of learning
possibilities in Environmental Studies — to develop our children's understanding about their
world by using their skills of observing, experimenting, thinking, questioning, analysing,
making a guess and hypothesising, talking, discussing, arguing, etc. Children have these
capabilities but they are neither recognised nor assessed by schools. In fact, when teachers
start organising tasks or group work to assess and record such learning they also help enhance
these skills.

Section IV

4. Modes of Assessing Children’s Learning

We have seen that learning in EVS must encompass a wide range of activities to help develop
children’s understanding and skills. Several modes of assessment are required to ensure that
teachers and parents can observe children’s development through its multiple dimensions,
and which can facilitate further learning, for the learners as well as for the teacher. We
discuss here some modes used by teachers of EVS, keeping in mind the range of indicators
given in section 2.10.
4.1 Expression: Drawing, Acting, Dancing, Sculpting etc.

4.1.1 Road Safety

We discuss examples of three different ways in which the topic of ‘road safety’ was dealt
with in government primary schools. We also see that only when children are given a chance
for creative expression — either through acting, drawing or creative writing — do they learn
more effectively, and also give us opportunities to assess their original ideas and thinking.

A. Performing and Reporting for the Media






Amardeep, the teacher, divided her class of 28 children into four groups and three pairs.
Each group was asked to think of a situation that can lead to a road accident and to enact the
same. Three pairs of students posed as ‘media persons’ from a newspaper, a T.V. channel
and a radio channel.

Picture showing:
A group is performing and others are sitting in a circle. Media persons are seated on chairs with
the name of the TV, radio channel and the newspaper pasted on their respective desks.
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Group I enacted a scene showing a child cycling very fast in order to reach school on time.
He was hit by a speeding bus on a sharp turn. A young man standing near the door of the bus
was also thrown out as the driver applied the brakes.

Group II enacted a scene showing children playing cricket on the road. The fielders ran to
the main road to get the ball, which was hit very hard by the batsman. One child, in this
hurry to get the ball, did not see the approaching two-wheeler and got injured in the process.

Groups III and IV also enacted different scenes related to road accidents.

The road accidents were reported by different media in their respective styles. Later a
discussion took place around the following points:
• Why and how do accidents happen?
• How can they be avoided?
• How come there are gaps and differences in the media reports?

The learning outcomes include thinking and brainstorming on different possible situations
that can lead to an accident. The group learnt the importance of consensus in order to
proceed with the activity. Decisions regarding different aspects like roles to be played were
taken. The children used body movements, facial expressions and verbal and non-verbal
gestures in order to express and communicate. The media were able to report the incidents
in their different, typical styles.

Individual assessment reports of two children are given below:

“Sonu took an active part in choosing and enacting the scene (of the road accident) and co-
operated with group members. He has learnt to express well through body movements and
delivers dialogues with ease and spontaneity. This shows that he is clear regarding his role
and the situation. Through his facial expressions he is able to show different emotions like
fear, joy, and confusion quite well. The scared look on his face when the vehicle
approached was quite natural.”

“Parineeta has improved tremendously in the last one month in terms of written expression.
Taking cues from her partner she was able to write the newspaper report on accidents using
grammatically correct short sentences. She posed good questions to the 'witnesses' to
construct her news story. She also suggested a novel solution to avoid accidents on sharp
turns, using a gadget to indicate a vehicle coming from the other direction.”

Through this activity a teacher can assess students on the following EVS indicators:
• Observation and Recording – Reporting, narrating and drawing; picture-reading,
making pictures.
• Discussion – Listening, talking, expressing opinions, finding out from other people.
• Expression – Drawing, body movements, creative writing.
• Questioning – Expressing curiosity, critical thinking, developing good questions.
• Analysis – Predicting, making hypotheses and inferences.
• Experimentation – Improvisation.
• Cooperation – Taking responsibility and initiative, sharing and working together.

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B. Writing creatively–even in the State Scholarship Exam (Class IV)!

Q: Describe different situations when accidents can occur and suggest how to prevent them.

A government school student in Kerala, who has been encouraged to write creatively as part
of his regular teaching and learning experience in the class, feels free to express his thoughts
in the following manner:

“If one drives in a half-sleepy state accidents will take place. If a person drives while
looking at women then accidents will happen. Also over-speeding will cause accidents. If
the driver is careless accidents will happen. If one walks through the middle of the
road without looking out for passing vehicles, accidents will take place. If the brake
fails an accident can happen. If the vehicle goes without noticing the train, If the
bridge on which the train goes collapses, if there are pot holes on the road, if one
drives while suffering from severe headache he can fall down somewhere. If the driver
listens to people talking an accident will happen. When two people are talking on the
road he will dash onto them. If one loses control over the vehicle accidents will happen..
If one vehicle tries to overtake another one accidents will take place. While one train is
moving and if another train comes accidents will take place. Accidents will also happen
if one drives while watching beautiful birds. Accidents will happen if one drives at high
speed out of fear of wild animals. Accidents will not happen if one wears a helmet while
riding on a scooter. Vehicles should go carefully. While passing by curves on the road
the vehicle should horn.”

Through such tasks the teacher can assess students on the following indicators:
• Expression – Drawing, creative writing, etc.
• Explanation – Reasoning, making logical connections.
• Analysis – Predicting, making hypotheses and inferences.

C. Answering questions from the textbook (Class III, NCERT, 2000, page 95)

Fill in the blanks by selecting the right word from the ones given below:
(zebra crossing, railway track, green light, traffic, accidents)

1. Follow the ___________ signals at the crossings.
2. People use________ ________ while crossing the road on foot.
3. When the gate at the level crossing is closed, one should not cross the _______
_______.
4. If the traffic rules are not followed, _______ can take place.
5. Vehicle move only when there is _______ ________ at the crossing.

Readers to Reflect:
• What indicators can be assessed through these questions taken from the old textbook
(NCERT, 2000)?
• Out of the three options on ‘road safety’ given above (A-C), which will you choose for
assessing children's learning? Why?
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4.1.2 Worksheet – ‘Can you help them?’
The following are questions to make children think about their feelings and how they can
help others who may be disturbed, taken from the Sangati programme run in Mumbai
Municipal Schools by Avehi-Abacus.
Here are some children who are upset. They need your help. Tell them what you do when
you are in a similar situation.
1. Satish is a short-tempered boy; he cannot tolerate anybody challenging lesson space his
views. When someone disagrees with what he says, he just explodes with anger. Whether it
is at a game or while talking to his friends, he often walks away angrily because they
disagree with him. What would you tell Satish to do in order to control his anger? What do
you do when you get angry?
2. Gulshan is a sincere student, but just before an exam he gets terribly nervous. Then he
cannot do well in his examination. What advice would you give Gulshan to help him? What
do you do when you feel nervous?
3. It is vacation time and Sheela has no one to play with. Most of her friends have gone to
their villages or are visiting relatives. Sheela is getting restless and bored at home. Do you
have any suggestions for Sheela on what she could do? What do you do lesson to get rid of
boredom?
4. Meena is an excellent athlete. She enjoys playing outdoor games. She worked very hard
to win the running race at the inter-school sports meet but missed it by a few seconds. She
is feeling very disappointed, not just for herself but also for her school. Can you help Meena
to overcome her disappointment? What do you do when you feel disappointed?
4.1.3 Children's Drawings
The following questions are from the Class V examination for children of Hoshangabad
(conducted by Eklavya, M.P. and translated from Hindi):




















Q 1: A story is given below. After reading the story, give answers to the questions.

“One day Sukhbati saw that there was something lying far, under a stone. She went close to
the stone and found a red and blue balloon lying there. She picked up the balloon and started
filling air in it. As she started blowing air into the balloon, it got bigger and bigger. The big
balloon started flying and took Sukhbati with her.

Sukhbati held the balloon very tightly. The balloon was flying over high mountains. At first,
she was scared but later she started enjoying herself. After mountains, she was flying over a
thick forest. The balloon went over the forest and then across the sea. The balloon came above
a city. An eagle then pecked the balloon and the balloon burst. Sukhbati started falling down.
As soon as she hit the ground, she jerked. With that shock she opened her eyes, and found
herself in her bed.”
1. What did Sukhbati see under the stone?
2. Why was Sukhbati scared?
3. What places did the balloon fly over?
4. Make a drawing of Sukhbati hanging from a balloon.
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Record of teacher's assessment of children's drawings:
Analysis of children’s responses: Almost all children responded to this question. Here are
some interesting samples of children’s drawings:







Children have used their imagination. It is interesting to note that Ramrati, Ratan,
Gagandeep, Amrita and Farida have drawn Sukhbati smiling while Pyarelal, Ritu, Kamaljeet,
Rabnoor and Rasheedan have drawn scared expressions on her face. Such facial expressions
show how children feel about the character in the story, or even how they would feel if they
were in place of that character.

Looking at the drawings closely I observed that Amrita has shown Sukhbati holding a balloon
in only one hand, as children often hold while they take it from a ‘balloonwala’ (hawker).
She may not have realised that if one is hanging from a balloon, one would desperately hold
it with both hands. Rabnoor has drawn the balloon and Sukhbati separately, which shows that
she has not been able to imagine how to draw Sukhbati hanging from the balloon.

The written exercises (1, 2 and 3) are based on an understanding of the narrative. However,
the drawing exercise provides much more scope of expression for young children. It gives an
opportunity to the child for personal interpretation and imagination, and affords freedom for a
personalised style of representation. Children enjoy drawing so it is also a pleasurable way of
asking them about their understanding of a narrative.

Q2: Draw an elephant facing left and a mouse facing right. (This was another Class V
examination question, and here are some samples of children’s drawings).
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Record of teacher's assessment of children's drawings:
Most children had correctly drawn an elephant facing left and a mouse facing right,
indicating that they have understood the concept of ‘right-left’. Here are some other
interesting observations.

• All children have drawn a basic body shape of both animals. However, Hemant has
drawn a decorated elephant which he might have seen in the Republic Day parade, a
film or perhaps even a wedding.
• Sonu, Swati, Arti, Sana and Rocky have drawn basic physical features like the face,
trunk, body, legs and tail for an elephant and the mouth, eyes, body, legs and tail for a
mouse. Their drawings also show a clear emphasis on facial expressions for each of
the animals.
• Sania has drawn four legs of the elephant in a different way. Hema has drawn the four
legs of elephants as drawn in the standard drawing of an elephant, but Sania has tried
to draw differently. From a conventional adult point of view, there is a danger that it
may be labelled as ‘wrong’. However, we must appreciate that instead of copying
from a picture, she has drawn from her own perspective. Development of perspective
does not happen overnight it does takes time. Even for an adult, it is difficult to
imagine mentally as to what angles one looks from–to see two or three legs of an
elephant. All drawings are different, which shows that children are thinking and trying
on their own. This shows the beginning of the development of their understanding of
‘perspective’.
• It is interesting to note that Azra and Rahul have drawn more than four legs in the
case of a mouse. It is possible that they may have usually seen a mouse darting across
the room, without sufficient time to observe! Moreover children are still in the process
of developing the concepts of ‘animal’ and ‘insect’. Azra has drawn six legs of the
mouse, showing that she has not fully differentiated a mouse from an insect and needs
to be asked to observe a live mouse or its picture more closely. I must also make them
observe insects closely.
• Most children have drawn the elephant bigger than a mouse. Swati has drawn the
elephant and mouse of roughly the same size. It does not mean that she did not know
about comparative sizes. It may be possible that she was not conscious about showing
difference in sizes while she was busy drawing. In fact, she seems to have been more
fascinated and preoccupied with showing even minute details of the mouse like eyes,
hair on tail etc.

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This drawing exercise may apparently seem to assess only their understanding of ‘right and
left’, but it also gives us many insights into children’s thinking about animals, their body
shapes and even sizes, which can be developed further in the classroom. Thus, as an
assessment exercise like this becomes an important guide for further learning.

In another example of a drawing-based test question, children were asked to say how an
aeroplane is different from a bird, and to draw these. The aeroplane was chosen because the
school was located near an airport and children often also saw aeroplanes flying past their
houses. An analysis of children’s drawings reveals their keen observation (and imagination)
about an aeroplane, where they have drawn in detail its body, wings, wheels, lights windows,
fan and even a ladder. Indeed, one drawing also shows people sitting in an aeroplane and a
pilot flying with a steering wheel in hand.



Every drawing is different and distinct. Drawing is thus not only an enjoyable and expressive
activity for children but a very effective learning opportunity for teachers. These help
teachers in assessing children’s concepts, ideas, thinking and personal feelings, which they
feel free to express.

Just as they learn to speak their first language, young children draw as a natural part of their
development. Children in primary classes are still learning to read and write, but can express
themselves much more freely and deeply through drawings. It is our own inability to
understand children’s drawings and creative expression that makes us unable to make sense
of them. Our lack of imagination often comes in the way of analysing children’s drawings.
We, as adults, want children to reproduce in a standardised manner. We direct children to
draw a tree, mountain, river houses, flowers, etc., in a routine style. Instead of motivating
children to see things and events from their own perspective, we want to impose conformity.
Moreover, if we reward unoriginal responses, then where is the space for their imagination,
diverse thinking and expression? Why do we have ‘drawing competitions’ for young
children, ranking them with marks even for creative expression, instead of publicly
displaying all their drawings and thereby encouraging all of them to use their own
imagination?

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4.2 Picture Reading Tasks

Many kinds of questions can be framed on pictures to give children the opportunity to
express their power of observation, making connections and interpretations. For example,
questions based on these famous Mughal miniature paintings, showing construction activities,
can help children study them carefully and learn a lot about construction building – then and
now.

Task 1. Reading a Mughal Miniature



Task: You can study this painting carefully to understand many things about how buildings
were made in earlier times. You can also answer the questions to compare how buildings
were made then, with how they are made today.

1. Is it right to say that this painting shows activities of earlier times? What are the
things that are common today but are not found in this picture.

2. Can you roughly count the number of people involved in the work shown here? What
are the activities mainly done by men and what activities are women mainly
employed in? Are there tasks that are being done by both men and women? Are
children also employed in construction work?

3. Do you find people who are not directly performing any building tasks? Who may
they be? What may they be thinking of?
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4. Describe the various tools and things used to perform the tasks the people are engaged
in.

5. What are the ways in which materials are transported to the construction site? How is
material unloaded? How is water supplied to the construction site?

6. What would you say about the people shown here? Are they happy, healthy, busy,
lazy, worried, tired, bored, sincere, or excited?

7. Have clothes worn by people changed entirely between then and now? Are there some
similarities to clothes people wear today?

8. What is the building that is being made? Who would it belong to?

Let us see how various EVS Indicators can be assessed through these questions.

In the first instance, the picture reading requires making careful and detailed observation of
the picture. Secondly, the question would allow the child to use her observation of the
surroundings and compare it with the picture. There is also a possibility that the child might
go out and make an observations at any construction site and then use it for her answer. In
this manner, the child is using explanation, with reasoning and logical connections, and
comparison of construction work in different times — the Mughal period with the present
time.

In Question 2 the child has to make a comparison between the work done by women and men
in the picture. This contrast sensitises the child to see the role of gender in the division of
labour during that time and also at present.

In Question 6, the child has been given the space for carrying out minute observations to see
the entire process of construction starting from the raw material, transportation to its
unloading. The child here is made to analyse and predict what happens around one economic
activity, which involve many people in different roles.

In the picture reading exercise the child is not just making observations but is also drawing
comparisons (See question nos. 1, 2, 3, 7, 8). The teacher can thus assess in how much detail
the child has been able to observe.
Task 2 Learning from a Traffic Scene

The following is a picture of a traffic
scene taken from the Math-Magic
textbook for Class III (NCERT, 2006).
It is used for an exercise on data
handling.

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The same picture can also be used for EVS, while discussing different ways of travelling.
This can be done through the following questions:

1. Can you identify the different vehicles shown here by hearing the sounds they make?
Can you also make the sounds of some of these vehicles?
2. How many of these vehicles have bells and how many have horns?
3. Which among all these make loud noises and how many do not make any noise?
4. Can you think of ways of travelling other than given in the picture?
5. How do you travel when you go to meet your relatives? Write a brief account of any
recent visit to your relatives' home.
6. Ask your friends how they come to school or go to their relatives' homes, and fill this
table:

Vehicles used for
Friend’s Name Going to school Going to the
market
Going to relatives'
home






7. Which among these vehicles produce smoke?
8. If you have to go for a picnic with your friends where will you go? Which vehicle will
you use for this? Tell us who all will you take along? Can you name the vehicles you might
see on your way? Make a drawing to show the activities you will do there.

In Question 1, the teacher can assess the children on their ability to identify vehicles by
relating them with what they see in their surroundings. In the same question the children can
be made to check through their voice modulation if they can make the sounds of these
vehicles (expression). In Question 2, the teacher can assess the child on her ability to contrast
and compare as to how many vehicles have bells and horns. Question 3 and 4 assess a child's
ability to compare. Question 6 also assesses the child's ability to get information from others.
Similarly, Question 5 and 8 provide the child a chance to express herself through drawing and
writing.

Teachers can also think of some more questions to make this picture-reading activity more
interesting. Not only will children come up with different interpretations but will also be able
to relate it with their life experiences and share it with their friends.

4.3 Labelling

Picture-reading questions can also be used as labelling exercises. The main objective of a
labelling exercise is to make children understand how a system is made up of different parts
and sub-systems. It is important to understand that the concept of ‘part-whole’ relationship is
understood only if the pictures are related to the children's context. Picture reading also helps
bring out children's interpretation of a real object. Usually, in exams, the pictures given are so
complex that the child can hardly relate with the picture.

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4.3.1 ‘Water cycle’ : The child has been asked to label this diagram.



For a teacher it is a ‘water cycle’ where the child has to label its various processes. Can you
guess, through this child’s response, if she understood the concept? As discussed above in
Section III, ‘water cycle’ is not a linear process but, rather, has many dimensions which
involve the understanding of various other concepts like evaporation, condensation etc.

Do you think this diagram is an appropriate tool to assess the child’s conceptual
understanding about the water cycle?

4.3.2 The body systems

Let us now look at another example of labelling which is commonly used in almost all
primary science classes. Most of us would have been taught about various biological systems
in primary school, for example – the respiratory system, digestive system etc. How many of
us remember the different parts of our respiratory system along with their functions? Do you
remember reading about the duodenum, oesophagus, and rectum? Can you point to where
they are in your body?


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Most of us would draw a blank! Then, why expect children to label such diagrams? Labelling
should not mean reproducing memorised information; in fact, children are forced to
memorise all kinds of scientific terms for such activities. The primary objective to promote
skills of observation, classification and making associations, gets completely lost this way.

4.3.3 Labelling the picture of a bicycle

Then what kind of pictures could we use for labelling? The following is an interesting
example.



In this activity of labelling a bicycle, the teacher has assessed the children’s learning. Let us
look at the first response. The spellings are correct, but the teacher has marked some of the
answers as incorrect. However, in the second picture though the child wrote incorrect
spellings “chaka” and “hedil” for ‘handle’ it has been marked as correct, because the child
knows the parts correctly, even though she may be pronouncing or writing it differently.
The questions, their nature and method of asking, should allow children to give explanations
or predictions based on their ideas or experiences. Open and person centered questions are
more suitable for this. Such questions require more time to answer as compared to the
questions that require simple retrieval from memory. By giving enough time we can increase
the quality and richness of the answers produced by children as is clearly evident in the
classroom observations in Section III. Responses based on children’s experience helps the
teacher to understand their level of thinking, and decide as to what he/she might do in the
future to help them bridge the gaps in their thinking.
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Communication is an important aim of EVS and involves various conventions of
representation besides writing, which help in organising information and conveying it
efficiently. Graphs, picture-based questions, tables, narratives, etc. could be used to suit
particular kinds of information and for assessing children’s ability to communicate through
different modes.
4.4 Field Visit, Survey, Presentation, etc

Visits are meant not only for merely out and having fun but can offer several opportunities
for teachers to assess what children are learning all along — before going out, during the visit
and also after returning. Young children learn much more through observing and finding out
for themselves — even if it means doing a quick survey of the neighbouring houses or farms
to see and record what domestic animal is fed what food, rather than listing answers in the
class. In fact, much more learning happens this way, and the visit not only achieves
motivation to learn but also opportunities to collect, record, discuss and present information
in ‘real’ and meaningful contexts.

4.4.1 A Visit to the Mandi

This relates to the same group of students who visited the stable (section 3.1). In their next
visit to the local market of fruits and vegetables the teacher assessed if students had made
progress on the questions they developed and reports they presented. Students showed a
substantial growth in their learning. For instance, one group made the following questions to
ask the shopkeepers and hawkers:

What is your name? For how many years have you been working here? From what time
to what time do you work? Who grows these fruits? Where do you get these vegetables
from? Which vegetable is sold the most? Which fruit is sold the most?
Count the number of shops.
Count the number of trollies/carts (thelas)
Which fruits are sold by counting their number?
Which fruits are sold by weighing?

The presentation made by a group after the second visit:
“We spoke to a greengrocer aunty. She told us that the vegetables come from Okhla
and Kotla markets. All the vegetables are sold after weighing. The Mandi opens from 10
in the morning to 10 in the night. She has been selling vegetables for the last 20 years.”

Along with this report the group had made an elaborate drawing of the market. Three groups
presented through drawings and narrated what they had shown in those drawings. The other
two groups wrote a report and made an oral presentation.

A sample of one child's report (Translated from Hindi):
“In the shop papaya was kept above apples. Lemon and pineapples were kept on one side.
Grapes were hung in the shop. There was a song being played in the shop. When we
asked questions, the shopkeeper was laughing. He has been working here for the last 12
years. He brings fruits from Okhla market. He did not answer all our questions.”

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The teacher assessed students on the following indicators:
• Observation and recording – Reporting, narrating and drawing.
• Discussion – Listening to fruit sellers, talking to them and finding out answers to the
questions framed by them.
• Classification – Comparing and contrasting arrangement of fruits and vegetables from
one shop to another; comparing the sizes of different fruits.
• Questioning – Students were curious to know more about the mandi (market). They
framed questions keeping.
• Cooperation – Students worked collectively and shared responsibilities.
4.4.2 Questions to a vegetable seller (Worksheet from ‘Looking Around’, EVS Textbook
for Class IV, NCERT, 2007)
Such worksheets encourage students to talk to different people in the community and find out
about the life of those people and their work.

• Talk to a vegetable-seller in your area. Ask the following questions and make a brief
report in the notebook.
o What is his or her name?
o How many people are there in his her home? How many children are there at
home?
o What are the names of the children? How old are they?
o Who among the family members help in selling vegetables?
o Who stay with the vegetable cart sit in the shop?
o What vegetables do they sell?
o What time do they start work?
o For how many hours in a day do they work?
o Ask them about any three vegetables that they sell?

Vegetable 1 Vegetable 2 Vegetable 3
Name of the
vegetable

The price of the
vegetable

Where does it come
from?

What quantity of the
vegetable do they
buy at one time?

In which month do
you usually get this
vegetable?



The teacher can assess students on the following indicators:
• Observation and recording – Reporting
• Discussion – Listening, talking, finding out from other people
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• Explanation – Making logical connections
• Classification – Contrasting and comparing
• Questioning – Expressing curiosity
• Concern for Justice and Equality – Sensitivity towards the disadvantaged and
differently abled.

4.5 Projects

4.5.1 Example One – Exhibition of Antique Things

This is from a report (translated from Malayalam) written by Rajani, a government primary
teacher of Class IV (Paithinipparamba, Melmuri, Kerala), describing the EVS projects she
conducted. She refers to the curriculum renewal in Kerala, where children most
enthusiastically responded to the innovative projects and activities in and out of school. She
notes their amazing effort in setting up the Antique Exhibition in the village, which was also
visited by parents and other members of the community, and what learning it offered to the
teacher herself. We note the different aspects of children’s learning that can be assessed in
this project.

“In my opinion children like the new approach (of teaching EVS) most. My Std. IV children
are living examples of this. During the past four years they have visited 15 geographical areas
for observing and collecting data. They have visited workshops, houses, fields, ponds etc.
with a lot of interest, as part of their field trip.

I had conducted an ‘Exhibition of Antique Things’ as part of Environment Studies. Different
implements and equipment were being collected even three months before we held the
exhibition. 70 different antique things were collected from 150 houses spreading over various
villages. An equal number of modern things were also collected. Children also helped me
with this for four days. To my own astonishment a huge collection was made. The collections
included things such as gramophone, umbrellas with long handles, wooden slippers, antique
jars, telegraph, a tele-printer and various old types of measuring equipment. I have visited the
homes of 29 children in this process, through which I was able to understand not only my
children, but their home environment as well. Whenever I visited homes I took my other
students with me.”

In such a project the teacher can assess children on their ability to take initiative and
responsibility to collect the material. The teacher can also note how each group approaches
the family/house for the above purpose, and whether the children have gone beyond their
own houses. Further, how each child collects the information about each artifact, her ability
to listen to the informants, talk to them, express her opinions, and most importantly, learn
from other people etc. may be observed. The teacher can then assess the quality of the
information collected on the artifacts.

During the exhibition, the assessment can be done on the basis of how each group classified
and grouped the artifacts and also on how each group worked upon the tasks like decorating
and setting up the stall together. It is important to understand that ‘decoration’ does not mean
use of fancy material but rather a display of the items in a meaningful manner. The criteria
used for making different sections in a stall could be noted. Next the teacher assesses the
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students on their ability to discuss about their collection. When parents are invited to the
exhibition, the teacher assesses how they introduce themselves (their group work) to the
visitors, how they interact with them and explain (share information) about their collection.

4.5.2 Leaf and Flower House Project
This piece (translated from Hindi) is from the diary of a government primary teacher in
Delhi. She describes her process of assessment, for individual children as well as for groups,
as part of their EVS project work.
“I had begun the project by making two books with the students - “Leaf House of Our Class”
and “Flower House of Our Class.” We had made these books using old magazines and paper.
The activity was to collect different flowers and leaves, paste them and write the place, name
and date. They also had to write whatever they knew or observed about the tree, leaf, plant
and the flower. The project was an on-going activity in which they kept adding leaves or
flowers, also from outside the school.
We first had a long discussion on picking only fallen flowers and leaves. Sakshi knew the
names of all the trees and flowers so it was a good learning opportunity for me and the other
students. The assessment in this activity was more complicated. I assessed them on the basis
of things that they had written about the flowers and trees. I focused on the number of ideas,
novelty of ideas, and expression. Observing them discussing things related to the leaf or the
date on which they pasted it also helped me understand the extent of their learning.

It was a group activity since they had to extend the project and take care of it. I gave them
assessment scores on collaborative effort, division of labour, presentation and
organisation of their project book. Since they are in Class II, I did not mark them on syntax
at all; however I did focus on the sentences and spellings to understand the growth in their
written expression. When the groups made their oral presentations, all the members had to
speak. I then also gave feedback on how to logically organise a presentation and told them
the importance of coherent and clear articulation.”

4.5.3 Making Friends with a Tree
Select any one tree growing near your home or school. It should be a tree that is in flower or
is bearing fruit, like a peepal or jamun tree. Observe the tree every day for at least a week. A
list of questions is given below to help you to observe more closely. Fill in the worksheet and
file it in your folder. Take care not to damage the tree or any of the creatures that live in or
around it. If you climb the tree, look after yourself too!
• Name of the tree
• Draw the shape of its leaf (or stick a leaf.)
• What kind of flower does it have? (Draw or stick a flower.)
• What does the fruit look like? (Draw the fruit.) Who eats the fruit?
• When is the flowering season? Does the tree lose its leaves? – If so, which month?
• Which birds visit the tree? (Name or draw them.) Which birds nest in it?
• What insects do you find on it?
• What animals are seen on or around it?
• How tall is the tree?
• What does the shadow of the tree look like? (Draw it here.)
• Is it easy to climb? Have you ever tried to climb it?
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• Now that you know so much about the tree, would you call it your friend? What does
your tree friend do for you? What can you do for your tree friend?
(This is taken from an Avehi-Abacus Assessment Worksheet used in Mumbai municipal schools)

4.5.4 Self Assessment of Project Work

In some schools projects are assessed by the students themselves and the teacher. The
evaluation is carried out after the project is completed and each learner has presented his/her
findings to the other children or has put up an exhibition or display. Some questions are
given to help each student assess her own work:
1. How long did the project take?
2. Why have I chosen this topic?
3. What do I want to learn in this project?
4. How do I want to work on it?
5. What skills do I need to improve?
6. How do I assess my project?

4.6 Experiments and Activities

4.6.1 Learning all the time - even in the exam hall!

Consider asking children to do something like this while they attempt their exam:

• Go out and collect some leaves. Look at each leaf carefully. Three columns are given
below for you. Write the name of the leaf in the column it should belong to:

Leaves with zig-zag edges Leaves with pointed tips

Leaves with rounded tops




• Make a picture of your school. Now go out and see what lies around the school —
trees, roads, houses, hand pump and so on. Make sure you have shown such things in
your picture and labelled them as well.

• Some pictures have been drawn twice - once as they appear when viewed from the
side and again as they appear when viewed from the top. Can you identify them and
make the right matches?

• Two pictures given here show the shadow that forms around the same tree. One
picture shows the tree and its shadow in the morning and the other shows the tree and
its shadow in the afternoon. Please identify which is the morning picture and which is
the afternoon picture. Think a little and try drawing the sun in the right position in
both the pictures.

Exams need not be a time when one sits stiffly scratching one’s head for memorised nuggets
of information. It is essential to give the learners an opportunity to show how actively and
successfully they can tackle new learning tasks. More such activity tasks can be designed by
teachers. The tasks can cut across subjects and include activities related to language and
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mathematics. For instance, these are some examples from the NCERT Maths Class III
textbook which offer activities for EVS learning.

4.6.2 Tangrams (Math-Magic Class III, NCERT, 2006, p. 67-68,)



4.6.3 Observation and Sequencing of Events (EVS Class III, NCERT, 2006 p. ???)

Go to the kitchen and observe something being cooked. What was done to cook it? Write the
sequence. Don’t forget to write the name of the item being cooked. Look at the notebook of
your classmates and discuss in a group.

4.6.4 Measurement (Math-Magic Class III, NCERT, 2006, p. 54)


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4.6.5 When your grandparents were children (EVS Class III, NCERT, 2006 p. 63)

(i) Ask some elderly people if there were they can name plants which they had seen when
they were children but are not seen these days. Also, ask them if there are any plants seen
these days, but which were not seen earlier.

(ii) Ask elderly people what kinds of utensils were used earlier. What were those made of?

4.7 Making Good Guesses and Hypotheses

The questions given below will help children look at similarities and differences, to compare
and describe situations, and speculate about relationships and patterns. In Question 1
children will have to think of two plausible explanations for the given situation. This
challenges them to make logical connections between evidence and the hypotheses they
propose. The purpose of Questions such as 2 and 3 is not to arrive at a single correct answer
but to give space to children to think and, on the basis of their experiences, make and
strengthen new linkages and images in their minds.

The responses of children should be respected to encourage them to express themselves and
become conscious thinkers. These responses will also help teachers in understanding the
thinking process of children and the way they construct their knowledge. Questions like 3
and 4 help children to evolve preliminary understanding of some concepts without
bombarding them with concepts which are not age appropriate.

Q1. Shanti’s grandfather told her that as a small child he used to see many more birds like the
sparrow and the myna than are seen today. Can you make two possible guesses as to why
their number is less today?
1.
2.
Q2. Fatima and Irfan wanted small, round and smooth pebbles to play ‘gitte’ (a game played
with pebbles) with. Fatima said “We can collect some from the river side. I have seen many
good smooth pebbles there.” When they reached the river side Irfan observed, “When we are
a little far from the river such pebbles are not found.” Can you think of the reason why such
round smooth pebbles get formed near the river side?

Q3. Mamta feels that the grass and small plants growing near her school wall are growing on
their own. They have not been planted by anyone. A small berry plant was also amongst
them.

Can you also think of a place where plants are growing without being planted?
Why do you feel that they have not been planted by anyone?

How do you think the seeds of the berry plant could have reached that place? Think of two
possibilities.
1.
2.

Q4 Bilal and Aditya, students of Class V, were trying to dissolve mustard oil in water. This is
a part of their conversation:

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Bilal : Look water has become yellow in colour and oil is dissolved in water - (1)
Aditya : Bilal, look, can you see yellow droplets of oil on the surface of water?
Bilal observed carefully.
Bilal : Yes, oil did not dissolve in water. - (2)
Bilal : What will happen if we add mustard oil in hot water? - (3)
They put a few drops of oil in a glass of hot water and stir.
Bilal : Oil still did not dissolve in water.
Aditya : What will happen if we take a few drops of oil and a few drops of water. - (4)
Bilal put two drops of water and two drops of oil on the lid of his tiffin box.
Bilal : Look Aditya, water spreads more than oil, but still oil does not get dissolved in
water.
Bilal : When milkman puts water in milk, we do not see water droplets. - (5)
Aditya : ven the sugar grains get dissolved in water on stirring. - (6)
Bilal But tea-leaves do not get dissolved in water - (7)

In (1) the child had observed a slight change in colour of water. However, he was not able to
notice small droplets of oil on the water surface.
In (2) the other child had helped his friend in focusing his observation.

In (1) and (2) children are observing and are trying to give an explanation. It is the first step
in formulating/ making hypothesis. In (3), (4), (5) and (6) children were raising questions and
were trying to investigate. They were trying to build connections (drawing similarities (5 and
6) and differences (7)) in different situations. They were applying knowledge gained in one
situation to help understand a problem in the other. It is the second step in making hypothesis.
Children do not naturally formulate hypotheses. But there is a gradual progression. As
teachers, how do we come to know that children can make good guesses or hypothesis?

The following indicators (Harlen and Elstgeest, 1998) show that children have started making
a hypothesis:
• Children learn to observe and identify a feature of an event or phenomena which is
relevant to giving an explanation.
• Connecting the phenomena with a relevant idea from previous experience.
• Providing a testable explanation and testing it.
• Recognising that there can be more than one possible explanation of an event.

4.8 Using and Creating ‘Real’ Texts.

Exercises and assessment tasks that encourage children to read and create ‘real’ texts lend
tremendous motivation to the effort. For instance, teachers often use newspapers to make
children look for different types of information and data. They could look regularly at the
temperature chart to see how the forecast and the actual figures correlate with their own
experience of the day being ‘hot’ or ‘cool’ etc. There is no expectation at this stage for them
to fully understand the concept of ‘temperature’, which happens later in upper primary
school. Teachers can thus keep track of how children’s ability to read or use data from other
sources develops. Similarly, they could also make their own newspapers or bulletin sheets,
individually as well as in groups, and share them with the rest of the school.

What is important here is the fact that what they are asked to create is not just an assessment
task or ‘assignment’ but is actually used in a real context – in the classroom, the school or
even the community. For instance, children in some cities have actively participated in
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campaigns against polluting firecrackers, or to express their concern about the right to
education, about child labour etc.

4.8.1 Creating ‘My Own Book’

A sample of the details a child can obseve and creatively produce in her own book is shown
here. The 8½ year-old had been encouraged by her teacher to carefully observe ‘real’ books
as a group activity. Later she made a book as a gift for a relative, and wrote two poems, made
drawings for it, and also created her own ISBN code, a note about the author, including a
proud mention of the author’s ‘forthcoming’ book. She even painstakingly made an ‘index’ at
the end, each word alphabetically arranged, which she had done on her own initiative,
whereas children at this age are normally sweating over spellings and are bored with
repetitive exercises on the alphabets. It is clear that the learning that has happened from this
real task is so much more intensive and richer than what normally takes place in rigid test
questions or irrelevant homework exercises.



4.8.2 Evaluation Activity: Prepare a Press Report on the Gujarat Earthquake

The following example is an innovative examination ‘activity’ from Kerala, which asked
children to make a press report on the Gujarat earthquake after reading different reports
received from varied sources, such as, the observatory, a government office, historical
records, etc. It is important to note that this evaluation activity also helps children to learn
about the linguistic styles used by different organisations. This exam question helps them
learn how a fax is written, in what language the observatory writes or how would a telephonic
message from the State office convey the urgency of the situation




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4.9 Portfolios

A teacher of Class IV in a state funded school maintained EVS portfolios for all thirty–two
children in her class. Even though she had no budget and no almirah for this, she made
innovative use of the walls of her classroom. With the help of children, she pasted
newspapers on the walls and also made pockets on it. Every child chose a pocket and wrote
her name on it, and slipped her work in the pocket which became her portfolio. As the school
year progressed, the collection in the portfolio increased, with things, such as -
• Written material – worksheets, samples of creative writing, tests, reports/write- ups
of out-of-classroom activities, like a visit to the nearby bank, stadium, etc.
• Various drawings – plants, favourite flower, animals, festivals…….
• Art work like paper folding, paper cutting and Origami.
• Greeting cards prepared by children during the thematic plan on festivals.
• Letters to the child from other children and even by the teacher.
• Record of story books read by the child titled ‘Books which I have read’.
• Collection of leaves, textiles, etc.
• Diary paragraphs written by children, communicating their feelings and
understandings in a non-threatening way.
• Samples of each child’s Self-assessment sheets on which children have made their
own questions and evaluated their answers; also short formats in which they say what
problems they still face.

Portfolios should not contain only the best work but all kinds of work, to show the growth
and progress of the child over the entire school year. Such a collection shows to teachers and
parents what the child has accomplished and is an evidence of the actual work done rather
than just the test scores. At the end of every term the teacher looks at each child’s portfolio to
assess her progress and gives specific and useful feedback to parents. Such a collection of the
child’s work provides insights to parents about their own child and helps them discuss with
the teacher the child’s achievement, progress and growth.

4.10 Question and Answer Formats

In classroom discussion children must get adequate opportunity to communicate their
thinking orally while in paper-pencil formats they do so by writing. It is through answering
thought provoking questions that children get space to express their opinions and give
arguments. Thus, the questions should be such that they help children to become aware of
their own reasoning and to use evidence more consciously. We are all familiar with what we
have been calling ‘traditional’ questions, and we analyse some examples here to see how
these do not assess a child's understanding of a particular concept.

News received from different sources about the earthquake of Gujarat is given to you.
Prepare a press report on the basis of the following materials provided:

1. Fax message from government offices
2. Note from a press release on the earthquake
3. Urgent message from the weather observatory
4. Information on the history of old earthquakes
5. Telephonic message from Gujarat
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4.10.1 Traditional questions on abstract concepts - ‘living’ and ‘non-living’

This is from a term paper for EVS Class III of a Municipal Corporation school. The teacher
has made these questions to assess the concept of ‘living’ and ‘non-living’.
Q : Write any two characteristics of living beings.
Q : Name any five non-living things.
STUDENT-I

STUDENT-II


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These responses of two children show that they have tried to articulate what they understand
about the abstract concepts, but have been marked incorrect. The teacher focuses on the
spellings of the words rather than their ideas. Also, the answers are not in a language natural
to children: “Phoola Saans Leta Hai”, “Paeda Saans Leta Hai.” Can you see how the nature of
questions influenced their responses?

These unproductive questions compel them to recall some pre-determined answers. Do you
think such questions allow students to use their logical thinking skills and investigation?

4.10.2 Open ended questions to see their understanding of ‘living, non-living’

These are two examples from the answer scripts of the same students. But one can see how
the nature of these questions is different; these questions are open-ended and person-centered
as the child has been asked to draw from her own experience. Question number-1 asks them
to collate from their experience.

Student-I Student-II


Nazim's worksheet shows that he can articulate in his own words and think why the things he
observed differ from each other. He writes (for question no-3), “Koi Pathhar Ki, Koi
machine, koi kudrat ki.” He also writes that trees are different from man-made things, even if
they don't walk, because they grow like human bodies.

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It is evident here that when a question is framed differently, it provokes students to reflect on
their own thinking. A student asked whether wood was to be categorised as something which
has life. Instead of answering, the teacher posed this question to the whole class. One student
responded this way, “Jab lakadi paed main hoti hai to usmein jaan hoti hai, warna nahin
hoti.”

In the above example student-2 writes, “No” for the second question and gives the following
reasons “koi kudrat, koi patthar, koi machine ki.” This requires categorising, contrasting
between two observed things and their comparison. Similarly, in Question 4, 5, 6 and 7 the
child is being assessed on her skills of observations and reporting. In Question 8 and 9
assesses her ability to classify and offer explanations.

4.10.3 Example 3
In a JNU study of Delhi Corporation Schools, the nature of the question on the same concept
of ‘living, non-living’ differed. The children of Class V were asked the following questions in
a paper-pencil test:

Q. This is a list of some of things -Television, Cycle, Tree, Sun, Hair, Toy, Crow, Fish.
Out of these write things that:
Grow _______
Breathe _______

The responses show that children had carefully reflected upon the questions before writing
the answers. Some of these responses are very interesting and help us learn a lot about the
way children think. For instance, most children wrote that a fish and a crow ‘breathe’ but they
did not write these two in the category of things that grow. Such observations show that
children are giving meaning to their experience of the word ‘grow’ – and that the child might
not have seen a ' baby crow' or 'baby fish'. Indeed, how many of you can remember having
observed a fish or a crow grow?
The example also shows how the children derive their understanding on the basis of the
observations they make. Therefore their reasoning as well as classification was based on this.
It gets reflected in their answers like “sun, moon, cycle and hair” as things that grow and by
considering that trees are less active than animals.

On the question of ‘breathing’, most children seemed to believe that a tree grows but it does
not breathe. In fact, many children expressed in their writing that trees are ‘less alive’ than
animals. Some children had also written that ‘sun’, ‘moon’ ‘cycle’ and ‘hair’ grow. It is
obvious that ‘to grow’ or ‘badhna’ for them holds many different connotations and meanings
– the moon of course ‘grows’ in size, while the sun or the cycle can be seen to ‘move ahead’
which in Hindi is called ‘(aage) badhna’.

When the format or language of a question actually gives children a chance to think and
express themselves, they respond naturally, according to what they believe and what they
experience. Their understanding of the world is based on their perceptions and observations -
it is for us to draw that out through how we ask our questions.

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Example 4 Yum-yum rice (Math-Class III, NCERT, 2006 p. 117)


Example 5 Creative Expression (EVS Textbook Class III)
(i) Ask you friends when and how they decorate?
(ii) What would happen if birds could not fly but only walk on their feet?
(iii) If you could fly like a bird where would you like to go? What else would you do?

When students freely express themselves in writing, they come up with their intuitive ideas or
alternative frameworks. Some of these responses will show that they need the teacher’s help
for conceptual clarity. If we ignore their intuitive ideas or alternative conceptions, children
may hold on to them without any change, repeating the ‘right’ answers by rote but still
believing in their own versions. The value of open questions is normally not appreciated by
teachers, especially as tools to learn about children’s ideas.

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Section V
5. Records of Students’ Progress

Assessment is not meant to compare and rank children against each other or against some
fixed norms. Positive assessment should help teachers see how well each child is able to
perform, to track her progress and give feedback to ensure further improvement. Assessments
must not foster negativity, jealousies and competition, or promote unfair means to win the
race and so on. It is necessary to assume and accept that each child can grow and develop to
her full potential if learning opportunities are made available. It is this self-growth and
development that needs to be assessed and reported. Assessment should be such that it
motivates every child to give her the belief that she can do better.

5.1 What Learning ‘Outcomes’ for All Children?

How can Environmental Studies help all our children, all those who struggle to go to school,
and even all those who still cannot do so; those for whom the main purpose in life is going to
school, as well as those who aspire for a school that can support life, with meaning and
dignity? It is up to the teachers and makers of the syllabus and textbooks, to shape an
enabling learning environment for each child, wherever she may be located.

No syllabus has been given for EVS in Classes I-II, and it is expected that Language and
Mathematics will incorporate themes for the development of concepts and skills in areas
broadly related to EVS. The NCERT syllabus for Classes III-V does not spell out any
‘outcomes’ for each theme. However, schools must ensure that suggested activities or
discussions will be conducted because only then can it be ensured that learning will happen.
For instance, at several places the syllabus activities indicate that children need to conduct
specific observations. However, the purpose is not to collect random similarities or
differences, but to seek information from the object to extend children’s ideas and
understanding. For instance, to look specifically at the shapes of leaves, the edges, the
patterns of lines in it, etc. to know more about them. Thus specific purposes will need to be
spelt out when activities are designed. Similarly, young children ask many, many questions
which help in their development, but which are not all deep, and which do not allow them to
understand things at that stage. However, EVS classrooms will need to provide opportunities
to children to be able to progressively ask higher order questions that require different levels
of reasoning and investigation, by planned activities and exercises to get them to phrase their
questions, to answer, discuss and investigate them. These are basic to the learning process in
EVS and yet, unfortunately, most classrooms are not designed to ensure this. How then can
we expect all children to learn? Finally, how should their learning be recorded and reported?

5. 2 Reporting the Child’s Progress: Some Report Cards

We looked at the progress cards/reports developed by some well known schools of Delhi and
the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan. Some of them use words such as ‘Report Card’,
‘Progress Card’, ‘Development Profile’ etc, and their feedback is not limited to one page. All
of them present a qualitative feedback in the form of comments and grades on specific
indicators. Let us look at them individually to find out if they communicate adequately to the
parents about their child’s learning, development and struggles.

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5.2.1 Example 1: What do These Competencies Mean?

School 1 EVS Class III Report Card

UT- Unit Test, ASN- Assignment, PRO- Project S.E.E.- Session Ending Examination

As seen, there are 5 competencies given in the table. Teachers do not asses only by giving
tests; they asses all the competencies separately by giving assignments and projects. Let us
look at one question paper used to assess the above specified competencies and see if we can
understand the basis for asking such questions. There are nine questions from the first term
Unit Test of Class III.

Readers to Reflect

Can you match the following questions with the 5 competencies given in the table above?
Which question assesses what competency?

Q. 1) Write a function for each of these body parts.
Body part Function
Mouth ……………
Nose …………….

Q. 2) Draw a garden and name three things that you see in a garden.
Q. 3) Underline the correct word
The sun rises in the east/west.

Q. 4) Fill in the blanks with the words given in the box
Vapours, locating

i) The map helps in……………………………..a place.
ii) On heating, water changes into …………………….
5) What are the three forms of water?
i) S …………………
ii) L ……………….
iii) G ……………..
6) Mark the correct statement and cross (x) out the wrong ones.
Term I Term II Term III Final
Assessment
Subject
Competencies
UT ASN PRO UT ASN PRO UT ASN PRO SEE
EVS
1.Observation (Obs)
2. Idenification (Id)
3.Discovering Facts
By Oneself (Df)

4.Group Activity/
Application (Ga)

5. Oral
GRADES
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i) We should have a dustbin with a lid.
ii) Eating place should be clean.
iii) We should play on the road.
iv) Water has no shape of its own.
7. Write any five uses of plants.
8. Draw any five sources of water.
9. Draw and show the main directions.

(The school says: Q 1, 2 - Observation; Q 3-5 Identification/understanding; Q6, 7 - Discovering
Facts; Q 8, 9 – Group Activity/Application)

Now check your guesses against the competencies given above. What is your view? Does the
child need to ‘observe’ to write the functions of body parts? Does writing that “the sun rises
in the east” reflect any ‘understanding’? Does giving the ‘three forms of water’, even with the
first letter of the word given as hints, really assesses the child’s understanding? Can you think
of a skill which develops or can be assessed by a tick on this statement – ‘we should have a
dustbin with a lid’? What are the skills involved in writing the ‘five uses of plants’?

Surely, we seem to be at loss of words and perhaps some ideas. Formative assessment is not
about choosing specialised terms without getting into the context and the nature of the
activity. These questions do not give any opportunity to the child to think, observe, argue or
analyze. Assessing a child for her observational skills requires opportunities for making
‘observations’. Similarly how can ‘Group Activity’ be put along with ‘Application’? Drawing
any five sources of water is neither an application based activity nor a group activity, but is
listed as that!

We need to reflect and ask ourselves what we mean by assessment. Some other schools are
attempting more elaborate formats with personalized feedback to parents, but not necessarily
making more detailed assessment of children’s learning.

5.2.2 Example 2: What does ‘good’ or ‘v. good’ tell us?

School- II Milind’s ‘Report Card’

EVS/SCIENCE
Semester – I Semester- II
Observation Skills G G
Comprehension/Understanding G VG
Application to real life situations VG VG
General Awareness VG VG
Recall/Retention VG VG
Ability to Correlate VG VG
Ability to Analyse VG VG
Class Discussion VG VG
Collection Skills VG VG
Project Work VG VG
Group Activity VG VG
Participation VG VG
Effort VG VG
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VG VG
VG VG
Presentation: Oral
Written
Pictorial VG VG
Curiosity G VG
Test Grades A+ A+ A+ A+
G-Good, VG- Very Good

The school uses the same indicators to give feedback on EVS/Science and Social Science
separately. This graded feedback is supplemented with some comments given by the teacher:

“Milind’s understanding skills are very good. He answers very systematically and with
confidence during discussions. He is able to relate the concepts spontaneously to the
surroundings. He presents his work methodically and well on time. He works hard to present
neat work.”

What does saying ‘very good’ or ‘good‘ for a given competence, say, for ‘understanding
skills’ tell parents about their child’s learning ?

The comments given by teachers do not give any specific information about the child’s
engagement. It does not tell us anything about the concepts which were dealt with in class or
the activities conducted. For instance, we do not get any information for our queries -Why
has the teacher given ‘very good’ in ‘project work’ and what was actually done by the child?

Is it sufficient for a parent to know that the child’s teacher gives ‘good’ or ‘very good’ to the
child? What purpose can these two remarks serve? How can each child’s learning, in all its
diverse facets be labeled in two categories?

5.2.3 Example 3: Do we know what the child has learnt?

School-III Report Card
EVS
OBSERVATION
A) Can compare according to various attributes
- only when the criteria are given
o with the help of on advanced peer
o with adult supervision
o self –directed
- even when the criteria are not given
o with the help of an advanced peer
o with adult supervision
o self - directed
Teacher’s
observation
B) Can contrast when the criteria are mentioned
- with the help of an advanced peer
- with adult supervision
- self directed

C) Can classify when the criteria are mentioned
- with the help of an advanced peer
- with adult supervision
- self directed
D) Can classify even when no criteria are mentioned

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- with the help of an advanced peer
- with adult supervision
- self directed
E) Demonstrates curiosity towards observation
- observes, but expresses only when probed
- shares findings with others
- observes minute details


This school has developed a long list of indicators for every area of competences. All the
indicators are also categorised into further grades. The example for ‘observation’ is given
here. Similarly there are other areas of competence – Data collection, Reasoning, Evaluation
and Collaborative learning.

This progress sheet can give us an idea about the effort that the teacher must need to fill it.
Yet, it does not tell us what the child did learn? What were the struggles that the child faced
or what were the stages that the child went through at different points of time?

What would be helpful are specific comments about some activities done in class, and also
about the child’s involvement in those activities.

5.2.4 Example 4: Personal Comments, Not much on Learning Progress

School IV Report Card

Processes Meets
age/development level
requirements
Areas that
require support
Demonstrates
strengths in a variety
of familiar situations
Interest and basic
concepts

Observations and
questions

Project work
General awareness
Expansive or inventive
thinking and problem
solving

Applications
Assignments

This table does not specify the concepts for which the child could meet all age/ development
level requirements. If, for instance, the child requires support for assignments, this report
does not spell out the nature of support required. It also does not indicate the difference, if
any, in the kind of support that the child requires for different kinds of assignments. Some of
the comments given by teachers of this school are reproduced here:
iv) Anil is a keen learner and is progressing steadily. He is blessed with vivid
imagination. “Bhaiya universe +| -| birthday -ti ~|-| t|ª|`
v) We found him engrossed in making a colourful rangoli for “Patterns and
Designs.”
vi) Ashwini shows enthusiasm in the themes that interest him.
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~((` His queries cause brainstorming for the group, ·|¤| banana +| -| seeds -ti t|-
-=+| (÷ += -ª-| t `
viii) <i<i t· =n~n n +|: pattern t
ix) Often we find him sharing his knowledge and experience with the group. He loves
to work with the group.
x) She is not hesitant in asking questions.
xi)
These personalized observations indicate that the teachers carefully observe each child in
order to assess her learning. It also helps them in recognizing individual strengths, traits and
interests. The teachers engage with the children very deeply. However, a careful look at these
comments shows that these comments have the danger of becoming ritualistic. When we
went through a large number of reports we found that teachers normally used very general
statements with only few specific observations on a particular child.

The statement – “He is very enthusiastic and curious and loves to experiment” – does not tell
anything about the activities for which the child shows any enthusiasm. There is no mention
and analysis of the child’s learning, the activity done and the objectives being met. In all of
these profiles the idea of progression is missing. One cannot make out much about the
trajectory of development of the child in the course of a year and the nature of support
needed. Though it is significant that these reports do not discourage children by pointing out
their ‘weaknesses’ (which, incidentally, does not have to be the child’s weakness but is more
likely to be the ‘weakness’ of the school or the entire system!), yet there could be more effort
to identify the challenges before children and the support that can help them further.

5.3 Progress Report with Grades for Indicators

Finally, look at the following examples of two progress reports of children from Class III and
Class V on each of the EVS indicators (given in Section 2.8). The progress of students is
reported twice a year on the basis of the following grades:
1 - For a given indicator, the child needs a lot of support from adults and peers.
2 - The child performs adequately but can be motivated to do better with proper feedback.
3 - The child’s understanding or skill is well developed with respect to her age.


5.3.1 The Half Yearly Progress Report of Bisaniya, a student of Class III


a. Observation, reporting: 3 Bisaniya observes fine details. When asked to look for objects
with patterns of leaves and flowers, she observed floral patterns
on many things at home - bed sheet, dresses, crockery,
bathroom tiles, and she also recorded her observations in a
table. She also observed birds and animals around the trees in
the school garden and wrote detailed reports.
b. Discussion: 1 Bisaniya has original ideas, which she shares only when asked,
and is hesitant to participate in group discussions. In the unit on
Food she listened to her group members, but needed a lot of
probing for examples about food items which are eaten raw,
fried and baked. If family members involve her in discussions
and decision-making, she will start sharing her views more
confidently.
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c. Expression: 3 Bisaniya expresses creatively through drawing, poems and clay
work. She drew the picture of her house, decorated it with
Rangoli patterns, and wrote a nice poem.
n·| ·|· l+--| =<·
·t- t tn :=¤· ~<·
:=+i ¤- -| ·t- ¤<·
-=¤· =|n- t ¤÷| =n<·
She used good colour combinations and designs when she made
a clay- house.
d. Explanation: 2 She tries to give her own reasons and explanations. On thinking
about why the ladder is removed from the houses at night
(p.118 Class III NCERT textbook), she responded – “to keep
the dogs, wild animals and thieves away”.
e. Classification: 2 She developed many categories about where we see birds, like
in water, on tree, in the house and on the ground. However, she
could not list similarities between the birds living on a tree. She
needs more opportunities to look for similarities and
differences.
f. Questioning: 2 Bisaniya rarely asks questions in the class, but I remember one
interesting question she asked “Howis it that we get cold water
from the hand pump even during summer months?”
g. Analysis: 3 Bisaniya tries to predict and suggest hypotheses about various
things. In response to the question - what would happen if all
the birds started walking on earth? (p.56 NCERT Textbook),
she wrote about traffic congestion on the roads, more cat and
bird fights, a duller sky, empty trees, safety of birds and their
eggs etc.
h. Experimentation: 1 Bisaniya does not show much interest in making things and
experimenting with materials. During the theme Travel, she did
not make the toy train using empty matchboxes. When the
group made sprouted moong (p.65 NCERT Textbook) dish, she
did not participate. She needs encouragement to do such
activities independently.
i. Concern for Justice: 3 Bisaniya is very sensitive towards others’ needs, emotions,
strengths and weaknesses. In her clay house she made a ramp
and said - it is for people on a wheel chair. After reading the
poem “I have a sister, my sister can not hear” (p.45 NCERT)
she wrote a poem about her classmate Rishabh (who cannot
see), showing how carefully she had observed his difficulties
and everyday victories.
j. Cooperation: 2 She does not take initiatives in group settings. She likes others
to take the lead and responsibilities, but does her work quietly.
She remains at ease with group members and shares materials.
But when it comes to ‘presentation of the work’ she withdraws,
which creates problems, as all members are expected to present.

It is important to emphasize here that we need to give a qualitative feedback to the parents about their
child's learning. We must completely do away with marks. A qualitative feedback gives information
to the parents about what the child did in that quarter and which are the areas in which the child needs
support. Very importantly, such a detailed feedback also tells parents about the kinds of activities
done in the class. This kind of feedback becomes a reference point for the family to know about their
child's progress, and struggles, and the kind of support they can provide to the child.
110

The following report of a student of Class V reflects the progress in the abilities and the different
activities now performed in a higher class as compared to those in the earlier example from Class III.
For readers not familiar with the NCERT textbooks it also gives an idea of the kinds of lessons and
activities these contain.

5.3.2 The Half Yearly Progress Report of Gurmeet, a student of Class V

a. Observation 3 Gurmeet observes fine details of objects and events. During the class
visit to a pond, he showed that the green colour of water was because
of algae. He also made a long list of plants, animals and insects in
the pond and presented it in a table. He even noticed that ducks and
swans had skin between the toes.
b. Discussion 1 Gurmeet is not a patient listener. He wants to force his point of view
on others. During the group discussion - what MCD should build on
the land near the school and why? - he remained adamant that a park
should be built and did not listen to what others had to say, so no
consensus was reached. I will change his group and put him with
children who are more confident and expressive during discussions.
c. Expression 3 Gurmeet amazed everybody by miming how 'Bichandri Pal' would
have climbed difficult mountains and what she would have felt on
reaching the peak. The different emotions on his face like
determination, physical stress, and joy seemed very natural.
d. Explanation 1

Gurmeet is curious but is not able to make logical connections in
offering explanations. He was not able to make the connection
between the presence of moisture and rotting of bread even though he
had set up the experiment in different conditions with group
members.
e. Classification 2 Gurmeet is able to develop categories by comparing and contrasting
situation. In the class activity on solubility, he categorised substances
not only as soluble and insoluble in water but also as partially/slightly
soluble and soluble only on heating.
f. Questioning 3

The questions he asks often force me to think about my own concepts.
He asked - why is it that we blow on a candle to put it off but we
blow on a chulha to make the fire stronger? He also wanted to know
why rickshaw pullers and people who build houses work so hard but
are the poorest. This ability and curiosity needs to be nurtured by
giving him more opportunities to explore books and resources.
g. Experimentation 3 Gurmeet enjoys manipulating and improvising with materials. He
enjoyed and took the lead in collecting and putting different things in
water for the 'floatation and sinking' unit. He also made a very nice
sprinkler using a plastic bottle, which all the children enjoyed.
h. Analysis 1

Gurmeet needs support in predicting and making hypotheses. He did
not infer, from the stories and pictures given, that the variation in
different houses in different regions was due to differences in climate.
i. Concern for Justice 2

Gurmeet needs more support to realize the challenges of differently
abled children. He once hid Anmol’s crutches and did not return
them till he started weeping. However he has stopped calling Jeevan
'pagal' after I sat and talked to him about the autistic child.
j. Cooperation 2 Gurmeet is gradually learning to work with others. During the project
on saving water, he took his assigned responsibility to collect data
about the taps leaking in the toilets. He is now sharing his things too.

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When teachers keep a diary to record children’s activities and abilities, even writing some lines about
3-4 children everyday, they have a record of each child at the end of every month. From that record
and their observations they can write such a report card for every child – making note of what the
child has done and what she can do further with specific help. In addition, the portfolio of each child,
which contains all the work she has done in class, gives a good idea to the teacher and parents about
her progress. You will notice that giving some personal details about a child is important – it shows
that the teacher has taken personal interest in the learning of each student and, more importantly,
motivates the child to do better.

5.4 Separate Grades for Each Indicator

You would have noticed that the report cards talk about a large number of indicators of
learning and report separately on each of these. Assessing on a large number of indicators is
good. It captures quite a range in children's level of performance and reflects a real picture.
We should not look for one overall grade by combining the grades of all the indicators.
One, because the weightage of each indicator is not necessarily equal. Secondly, if we sum up
the performance on different indicators and conflate it into one overall grade, the real picture
gets blurred. Also the person gets labelled as ‘good’ or ‘poor’ without reflecting her actual
range of performance in different areas. Such labels make little contribution to the growth
and improvement of a person's abilities. For instance, in some areas a student may be a good
performer (e.g. grasp of a concept) and in others she may require support (e.g. oral
presentation of work). Thus an assessment report should indicate the level of performance in
different areas. This is done through three grades of performance -1, 2, 3 (as in section
5.5), to show ‘requiring support’, ‘adequate’ or 'well developed'.

The level of a student on an indicator needs to be assessed after seeing a number of
assignments and observations related to the student. Every single assignment or activity done
by a student need not be given a grade. It is more important to give specific feedback on the
work done. Once in 3 or 6 months, the teacher can go over and reflect on the assignments,
the activities and participation of the child in class, and note the level at which the child is
performing on the indicators.

It is most important to note the progress a child makes in comparison to her previous level of
performance on an indicator. This shows that the teaching process has contributed to the
development of the child and has been positive and meaningful for her. This kind of
assessment can be done when a teacher takes care to note down observations and incidents
related to a child's learning on a regular basis. Everyday, observations on 3 to 5 children may
be noted down in a register, so that by the end of the month we have one observation for
every child. Examples of such observations of individual children have been reported in
Section III. At the end of six months the teacher can go over these observations and prepare
a progress card on how the child has been doing on different EVS indicators.

5.5 Detailed List of EVS Indicators (Class III to V)

The broad EVS Indicators were listed in section 2.7. However, we can make a more detailed
list to see how each indicator consists of many abilities that need to be developed over the
three years. By the time children finish primary school we should have helped their abilities
and concepts to develop along the following indicators:

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1. Observation and Recording
• Using the senses to gather information
• Observing an object, an event or a phenomenon
• Identifying differences between similar objects/events
• Identifying similarities between different objects/events
• Noticing greater details
• Recognising the order of events that take place in a sequence
• Reporting and narrating an event or process; oral and written presentations
• Reading pictures, maps and tables, with gradually increasing complexity

2. Discussion
• Listening to others’ ideas and opinions
• Expressing one’s thoughts/ideas/opinions in a group
• Reacting and responding to others’ ideas and opinions
• Openness to accept feedback from others and appreciating that others may have a
different point of view
• Reviewing one’s thoughts and ideas depending on feedback from others
• Finding out from other people, even strangers outside school

3. Expression
• Expressing verbally
• Expressing oneself through gestures/body language; sculpting in clay
• Expressing through drawings
• Understanding that making a drawing of a place is different from making a symbolic
map; developing the basic ability to draw simple maps
• Expressing one’s own ideas and thoughts through creative writing

4. Explanation
• Formulating one’s own reasoning for an observed event/activity.
• Thinking critically about one’s own reasoning
• Making logical connections
• Making simple hypotheses – to explain observations or relationships in terms of a
principle or concept
• Recognising that there can be more than one possible explanation of an event/actvity
• Recognsising the need to test explanations by gathering more evidence
• Using evidence or patterns to make a prediction (as different from a guess, which
needs no evidence)

5. Classification
• Identifying a group of objects on the basis of observable characteristics
• Identifying differences/contrasts in groups of objects
• Identifying similarities in groups of objects
• Grouping the objects on the basis of one variable at a time

6. Questioning
• Asking questions to get information about objects, events and people
• Raising critical questions that help deeper analysis
• Asking questions based on hypothesis
• Identifying questions which can be answered by their own investigations
• Recognising that some questions cannot be answered by inquiry
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7. Analysis
• Defining the situation/event in their own language
• Identifying/predicting possible causes of any event/ phenomenon
• Checking evidence which does not fit into the pattern of findings
• Treating every conclusion as being open to challenge by new evidence, and changing
ideas when a different one makes better sense of evidence
• Making inferences based on evidence gained by experiences/experiments

8. Experimentation
• Handling things or equipment with care - individually and in a group
• Doing activities individually or in a group through systematic steps
• Showing respect and care for living beings
• Showing concern for minimum wastage of materials; trying to reuse and recycle
• Using standard or non-standard measures in making comparisons and taking readings
• Improvising and creating new things on their own

9. Concern for Justice and Equality
• Being receptive to views of children from different life experiences/cultures
• Being sensitive towards others who may be disadvantaged and differently abled
• Conscious of inequalities in the family and society; being able to reflect and question
• Having a strong sense of justice and being ready to act for a just cause

10. Co-operation
• Accepting one’s own strengths and weaknesses
• Appreciating others’ view points
• Taking initiatives/responsibility in conducting collective work
• Sharing and working with others; being considerate and helpful towards others

We have discussed how assessment of learning across different indicators is crucial to ensure
the child’s development at the primary stage. We have given many examples of activities,
tasks and questions to assess their learning, throughout the year or even at the time of
quarterly tests. We hope ‘examinations’ in EVS will change to become learning activities in
themselves, which children enjoy doing. There may be some doubts whether assessment
tasks need to be designed for each indicator separately. If we study the list of indicators for
learning in EVS, we can see that these are deeply linked to each other. All these processes
unfold together as we construct knowledge about something - we observe, discuss, express,
explain and classify. We question, analyse and experiment. We take initiative and help each
other. We develop our sensitivities on social issues. Many processes take place together
though we may engage with one kind of process more intensely for some time. Thus
teaching has to be integrated and holistic. However, assessment tasks can be designed so that
they are holistic in general but there may be a few that are specific to a particular indicator.
Most importantly, the teaching of EVS must provide opportunities to the child to interact
with her environment in the best possible way.

My son who has reached Class VIII along with his friends is in great mental strain just like a housewife, who has been cooking in a modern kitchen with all facilities, would feel on having been suddenly placed in an old-fashioned and ill-equipped kitchen. My son had got used to finding conclusions after doing project activities, composing poems, gathering information through reference work, observing plants, animals, birds and stars, and doing other similar activities. Now the old textbook has come back and also the old system of exams. This has created great mental conflict in him. He does not get opportunities for undertaking interesting activities; neither does he get any time to do this. Inferences are given in the textbook; he has to learn these things by heart. Instead of composing his own lines, he has to memorise long poems that he cannot even comprehend or enjoy. The method of coming to conclusions through observation, comparison and classification has now changed to learning by heart big assumptions, principles and formulae, which have nothing to do with his environment. Instead of writing a diary, preparing magazines, writing reports based on newspapers, doing experiments, reading books in the library and presenting papers at ‘seminars’, as he did earlier, he is sitting indoors memorising lessons. Till now he had always got an A grade in these skills but now none of his skills are tested. We are worried that this may result in a mental breakdown. His friends are already saying that they are soon going to quit school. Why does my anyone see the mental stress on these children? We are eagerly waiting to get a glimpse of the smiling face of our son and to hear him talk as he did earlier, before he faced this system. He hates these traditional examinations. It is not just Rajani’s son who hates traditional examinations, but millions of children in the country who continue to be oppressed by them. In this case the boy had a chance to enjoy an alternative system for the first seven years, which was not only less oppressive but was also stimulating. The new system had helped build his self-esteem and his sense of worth. The sharp contrast was therefore all the more depressing for him. The growing number of cases of depression, psychological disorders and even suicides, especially around the time of exams, is alarming. Parents are concerned about it and helplessly seek ways to cope with their children’s condition. It is not just depression that is a cause for worry but the fact that most children’s personalities are getting warped, and their self-confidence is irrevocably eroded. Then why do that we continue to force them to suffer and push them deeper through the grind? Why do we opt for ‘painkillers’ for our children, in the form of counselling and tuitions, instead of dealing upfront with the pain-causing malady in our own system? We do have alternative ways to assess what they have learnt, and also to motivate them to learn better, through creative systems of evaluation. We need to appreciate how these alternatives actually help children learn much more than routine examination questions? How can examinations be without tension? How is it that parents like Hameed or Rajani, who may not be ‘experts’ in education, argue so eloquently about assessment procedures that are closely linked to the learning processes in the classroom? What, after all, are the kinds of examinations these parents and teachers have so passionately demanded? We give three examples taken from the first terminal examination held in primary schools of Mallapuram district (Kerala). These were called ‘evaluation activities’, to show that examination questions could be made in the form of ‘learning activities’ being used in

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classrooms, and were designed collectively by primary teachers during their academic workshops and meetings.

1.2 Samples of ‘Evaluation Activities’ from the First Term Examination
The First Terminal Evaluation for Class III, conducted by a teacher in a school in Vettilapara (Block Area code), has no printed exam paper. She has written in her own Teacher’s Manual the entire list of activities that she will undertake over the ‘Evaluation Week’. These have been designed by the primary teachers of the schools in the cluster, as part of the Evaluation Cluster Meeting. There is one ‘evaluation activity’ for each Competency Area that has been specified in the guidelines for each of the subjects viz. of Language, Mathematics and Environmental Studies (EVS). Each ‘question’ or ‘evaluation activity’ begins with a ‘non-evaluatory’ activity, which is thoughtfully designed to make children comfortable and to help them to focus on the specific task. 1.2.1 Your favourite game, its rules and the process Discussion (non-evaluatory): What games do you play for Onam? Activity: Write a description of your favourite game, giving the rules, the number of people and the process of playing. A child named Dijo, from a low-income family, writes in Malyalam a full page, titled ‘Kule Kule Munderi’ (Bunches and Bunches of Grapes). Only a part of it has been translated here:
“This game has no restriction on the number of people. One among the group picks up any object like a small branch of a plant. Others sit in a circle. The child who has the branch goes around the group saying ‘Kule Kule Munderi’. The others say ‘Nire Nire Mundwa’ (Bring Bring More). The child quietly keeps the branch behind someone. Then pretending that it is still in his hand, he goes around saying ‘Kule Kule Munderi’…… .”

Dijo’s handwriting is clear and confident, with no scribbles, and there is one instance where the word ‘kutti’ is carelessly spelt, though it is correctly written at every other place. Different evalution ‘activities’ require him to write in different styles and it is clear that he understands the difference in the stylistic requirements of writing a fantasy, the rules of a game, a historical piece or the tabulation of scientific information. As we will discuss in later sections, many oral and written exercises need to be undertaken in the EVS classroom. Teachers can use the NCERT (2006 and 2007) textbooks for several such examples through which children learn different styles of reporting, analysis and expression. For instance, the following exercise on the ‘rules of games’ from Chapter 10 of the Class IV EVS textbook (NCERT, 2007) encourages children to relate the story on Kabaddi to the other games they play.

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Table Cooked using steam Name of the food item Prepared with oil Boiled Grading Indicators A .3 How did we ‘Feel’ as Learners? Who are ‘Good’ Learners? Many readers would probably find the following experience uncomfortably familiar. Name some games in which it is very important to touch the players. the helplessness. 'stupid' questions. Evaluation Activity: List all the kinds of foods you have eaten in the last week. Wouldn’t that be fun! Try and play the game with this rule. For example in cricket. That would have been stupid.The issue is analysed but the inference is not correct C . It is not that I did not have any brains. Actually questions are questions – when asked genuinely and with thought – but I somehow felt 'stupid' in asking them. I could ask them anything and not feel scared to be stupid. or just giving any random answer with the hope that the answer would be correct. and the feeling of demotivation? On the other hand. The thought of getting crosses and zeroes. You also get your turn by someone’s touch. But I am glad my parents were ready to work things out slowly with me. Use the table given below for analysis. Imagine if there is a rule that the entire team will be ‘out’. if the balls fall off the stumps. The thought of cheating from friends. if all the three stumps fall. came to me every now and then. frightened and shamed me. The time they spent with me helped me collect myself and apply my mind to science and not give up or become actually truly stupid.2 Analysis and Inference: What kinds of cooked food did you eat? Non-Evaluatory Activity: Begin with children singing a song on food items. Now describe which kind of food items you ate the most. What are some other games in which the central line is very important? 1. Similarly make some rules for other games and play. I wanted to ask many questions – small. In kho-kho you get ‘out’ when someone touches you.Student identifies the issue herself and comes to a conclusion B . One of the team members of this report remembers her own fear of examinations and classroom questions: I remember feeling very confused about many questions in science and mathematics. What about you? What do you recollect of yourself as a LEARNER? What gave you the courage to learn and what pulled you back? Did assessment at school help you to improve your learning? Don't you think most of us waste a lot of our effort just coping with the impact that assessment has on us – the anxiety. because Shyamala had touched the line. But I found that my teacher and friends were moving too fast. do those who assess us spend the necessary amount of 45 .2.Every game has some rules. Let us see what happens if the rules are changed. In Kabaddi the entire team was ‘out’.The teacher needs to give clues for analysis and inference 1. a batsman gets ‘out’.

we take examples of concepts such as the ‘water cycle’ or ‘governance’ to show what they do not understand. These studies again show that ‘cognition’ and ‘affection’ are not necessarily separable. a sense of collectivity and a special relationship with children. A study of schools that achieved outstanding results in seven Latin American countries (UNESCO. 1. Those schools are considered ‘outstanding’ that actually add value to children’s knowledge and learning. Similarly. as has been traditionally thought. we will get their support to develop a better system for assessing and reporting children’s progress at school. We see that a teacher of Class III demonstrates an experiment on ‘air and combustion’ (Section 2. in turn. not just those that select already advantaged children with educated and affluent parents. rather than a chance to label students as ‘weak’. Conceptual understanding of maps develops gradually over the years and draws upon many areas of learning. we see that 13 year old children too find it difficult to properly use and draw maps they may need in everyday life. confidence. Moreover. respect. and to a large extent determines and delimits what children will be allowed to learn. also feel they are ‘not good enough’. 2003) and other international assessments have shown that students perform better when they feel confident and motivated and have a high sense of self worth.1).4 An Overview of the Chapter This chapter at how we can move towards a new system of assessment of children’s learning. and spend more effort on those who have difficulty in learning a particular thing. It needs the child’s consistent engagement with how real objects look different from different perspectives. students review the ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ of an error to themselves seek alternatives. to understand what policies help ‘quality and equality in learning’. how solid (3 Dimensional) objects can be represented on paper (2 Dimensional) 46 . and also discusses how they cannot understand some concepts because we have been teaching them too early. voices of parents quoted in Section 1.effort to learn about our learning? Without learning about our learning. Importantly. Section II shows how children’s understanding of concepts in EVS develops. and how can there be an assessment of learning? Studies have been conducted across the world to understand what is meant by ‘good’ learning. Mistakes in such ‘outstanding’ schools are seen as learning tools. theirs and ours. 2002).2.4)’ of ‘maps’. say. how can there be any further learning. Examples of such examination tasks (from Kerala) are given in Section 1. science or maths. Those students who do not perform well in a subject. PISA (OECD. it has been seen that teachers of such schools have high expectations from all their students. ensure that the range of abilities sought to be assessed is enlarged and thus the teaching learning process also changes. and how schools manage to achieve a ‘culture of success’. showed that performance was highest in schools where there was affection. In a more detailed analysis (Section 2. a crucial area we have long neglected. both at the classroom level and also for designing more suitable tasks for the examination. by changing the evaluation systems we can. but children at that age cannot make the connections she expects them to. and owing to their lack of motivation they give up easily without persisting in answering questions or examinations. even among students who face disadvantage or adverse conditions at home.1 show that if we involve them and the community to observe how and what children learn. The examination pattern is crucial to what goes on in class. Indeed.

which fulfill the aims of teaching EVS. individually and in groups. They must also give an indication of the kinds of activities conducted during period so that parents are informed and can also help provide a supportive environment to children. such as. We give extracts from teachers’ reflective diaries which show how closely they have kept track of different children’s progress and problems. projects. and which can be used by teachers for recording and reporting their progress during the year. Section 2.through field visits. Section IV gives examples of different modes of assessing children’s learning – through a variety of tasks.8 gives a list of indicators to assess different aspects of children’s learning in EVS. Sections 2. Report cards must not hurt the self-esteem of children. discussions. but must motivate them for further progress. and an understanding of relative size and positions. In Section III we look at three EVS classrooms where teachers use different modes of assessment . The NCF 2005 calls for such an integrated approach for EVS at the primary level. and demands that schools should help children construct knowledge while drawing upon their diverse living experiences. etc. while they also maintain detailed portfolios of what children have been doing during the year. It critically reviews different formats used by schools and suggests how reporting can help parents understand what their children are learning and what more they can do. surveys.7 give an idea of the changes in the new syllabus. social studies and environmental education. and gives details of its broad themes. It shows how even the question and answer format can be changed to allow children to think and express better. acting. experiments or oral presentations – to observe and record what and how different children are learning. much better than what they would do on their own. experiments. which provide an integrated view of science. labelling.5-2. across the indicators for EVS learning. 47 . Finally. They should show that the teacher has made personal observations about what the child knows and can do. drawing. Mapping is an area that needs to be dealt with both in EVS and Mathematics. picture reading. We also see how teachers plan small group work so that children can learn from each other.using abstract symbols. from the questions and doubts of a group member. It describes how teachers of primary schools are already conducting assessments and examinations using these modes. The new NCERT syllabus (2006) takes this into account and ensures that the textbooks give a sufficient number of creative exercises to help develop a better understanding of maps. Section V focuses on progress records for reporting students’ learning.

to develop an awareness about environmental issues . and also.to engage the child in exploratory and hands-on activities to acquire basic cognitive and psychomotor skills through observation. Teacher Students “What is there around us?” (different voices) “Desk. Objectives of Environmental Studies The present syllabus attempts an integrated perspective for the primary stage of schooling and draws upon insights from sciences. social studies and environmental education.to develop an understanding based on observation and illustration. relating them to their own experiences.to create cognitive capacity and resourcefulness to make the child curious about social phenomena. The experimental set-up is on a low wooden platform. The new EVS syllabus indicates the following objectives of teaching science and social studies at the primary stage: . what is learnt! We hardly see children making observations. every class appears to be the same and from the responses of children one can hardly distinguish what is being taught. drawn from lived experiences and physical. children sit passively and 'receive' information from the teacher. starting with the family and moving on to wider spaces . visible to all children Preeti is a diligent teacher of Class III in a government school of Delhi. The following are scenes from certain classes where much learning did not happen despite a lot of activity and the best efforts of teachers. or classifying objects to comprehend relations.to be able to critically address gender concerns and issues of marginalisation and oppression with values of equality and justice.” 48 . Pooja. there are some classes where teachers may work hard to demonstrate experiments or even engage children in activities but which still fail in making them understand concepts. . the purpose of teaching EVS is not realised in most classrooms. 2. based on NCF 2005 However. She expects that children will understand a complex concept when they see a demonstration. wall. you. etc. It is important for us to see and reflect about what goes wrong in these apparently 'active' classrooms. social and cultural environment . inference.1 Air – Learning that’s ‘All in the Air’? Picture Showing Children and teacher sitting in a circle. social and cultural aspects of life. which they are expected to memorise. estimation and measurement as a prelude to the development of technological and quantitative skills at later stages . engaging in exploratory activities. classification. Thus. Rashi. rather than abstractions .to emphasise design and fabrication. tree. chair. In fact.to nurture the curiosity and creativity of the child particularly in relation to the natural environment (including artifacts and people) . How Do Children Understand Concepts in EVS ? The traditional EVS classroom does not differ much from classrooms of other subjects. biological.to train children to locate and comprehend relationships between the natural. and respect for human dignity and rights Source – Syllabus for classes at Elementary Level.Section II 2. for that matter.

.. They observe with interest.”(“eksecRrh NksVs fxykl esa tYnh cq>h vkSj cM+s esa ckn esa D.” (vkt Student Teacher - A student - Students Teacher - ge oqQN iz..” “Breath (lk¡l)” Preeti seemed to give up. Today I was trying to light the stove. “Fragrance ([kq'kcw)”. Picture Showing Burning candle extinguishes after a few seconds Teacher A student Another Student A student - “Why do you think the candle extinguished after sometime?” “Because it touched the glass. Picture Showing .”(D.Candles of same size. jars of different sizes Preeti wants to demonstrate to the children that the candle burns for a longer time in the larger glass as there is relatively more air. what do we take in and take out of our nostrils while breathing?” “Keep your fingers under your nose and feel.” Silence ... “It must be damp. Something which is present but cannot be seen. One child speaks in a low voice. (others picking up the cue say) “foul smell “(cncw). no. We will see how air helps in combustion. children nudge each other and exchange surprised looks.”(eSa lqcg LVkso tykus ds fy. Teacher “In which jar did the candle extinguish first? In which at did it happen last? Why?” One student .(responds emphatically) “The candle extinguished first in the smaller glass and later in the bigger glass BECAUSE IT GETS EXTINGUISHED QUICKLY IN THE SMALLER GLASS.... but the matchstick did not light up and my mother said it was damp.g lhy xbZ gSA) Preeti did not give up and added two more glasses to the experimental set up.” “Tell me.k fj'rk gSA gok dSls tyus esa enn djrh gS) Preeti wants to demonstrate to the children that air is needed for burning and is used up during combustion.ksafd eksecRrh - NksVs fxykl esa tYnh cq>rh gS”) 49 .ksafd og fxykl ls Nw xbZ Fkh) “It happened because of the black soot. ekfpl tyk jgh Fkh] ekfpl ty ugha ik jgh Fkh] rc ek¡ us dgk .Teacher - “No..ksx djsaxs vkSj lh[ksaxs fd gok vkSj tyus ds chp D.” “We are going to do some experiments today and learn about the relationship between air and combustion. “Isn't air coming out of your nostrils? THERE IS AIR ALL AROUND US” (in a loud voice) “Yes Ma’am. She confidently sets up the experiment and draws the children's attention to it.”(dkyd dh otg ls) Preeti encourages others to try.

” Their answers however do not tally the scientifically correct explanation which the teacher wants them to infer. Some common responses of how children think about air are given below: Class II children Air comes when the fan moves.ksa gqvk\ tkj esa gok gS uμbl ckjsa esa lkspdj crkvks”) Another student .” (“.think in terms of this and reply. gok bl [kqys fxykl esa Hkh ?kql xbZ gksxhA When air gathers in one place. bl dejs esa Ika[kk ugha py jgk gS rks gok ugha gSA Class IV children Plants give air. the fan is switched off.ksa esa ls vanj vkrh gSA If you put a glass upside down in a bucket. One child tried to relate her observation with what had happened to her that morning . Air comes to the room from the windows. tc IkÙks fgyrs gSa rks gok vkrh gSA In this room. so there is no air. fxykl myVk djosQ ckyVh esa Mkyus ls cqycqys fudyrs gSaA Class VI children When the wind blows.“But in air the candle does get extinguished” (referring to candles getting blown out by a breeze). The responses of the children were intelligent and were based on their keen observations and experiences.ksafd gok gj rjiQ gksrh gS blfy. 50 . it appears heavy. Then what went wrong in this class? Is the concept too abstract for children of this age? What are your experiences on how children think about ‘air’ and other such concepts? Do you think that children in Class III can actually understand these ideas? What are the answers they give in response to the questions you ask them on air? This teacher failed to take cues from the children's answers that they do not understand the concept and it is too complex for their age. Air comes out from inside the plants.Teacher - “Why did this happen? The jar has air . the leaves move. isM+ IkkS/s gok nsrs gSaA gok IksM+ksa osQ vanj ls fudyrh gSA gok f[kM+fd. tc Ika[kk pyrk gS rks gok vkrh gSA Air comes when leaves move. the bubbles come out. (ysfdu gok esa rks eksecRrh cq> tkrh gSA) The classroom discussion clearly did not generate the desired learning outcome despite the best efforts of the teacher. but if it is spread one does not feel its heaviness. gok pyrh gS rks IkÙks fgyrs gSaA Because air is present all round. it must have entered the open glass.g D.“the matchstick did not light up and my mother said it was damp. D.

2 Water Cycle The following excerpt. (D. Write three properties of air. Lesson 5 : Journey of Water "The sea is my home. When I come in contact with these particles the vapours get cooled. Vapour is my 'gaseous' form. When the droplets come closer to each other they take the shape of the clouds.Movement of vehicles on road . 2002) shows that though the language might look deceptively simple each word is heavily loaded with abstract concepts.tc gok .… Now I start moving upwards as I become very light. In the light of these responses if we analyse Preeti's class we can see that she took up a concept that the children of this age (Class III) cannot understand as they have not yet begun to think that an empty glass is full of air. Class IV children have started looking for explanations beyond what they can see . If we adults did not have the previous knowledge that oxygen is used up during the process of combustion or is a supporter of combustion we too would not have understood the reason for the candle extinguishing after some time. These (Class VI children) are now at a stage when if their experiences are enlarged with planned activities. their ideas about air can be strengthened. When I get heated by the hot rays of the Sun.Burning of wood . Ika[kk ugha pyrk rks gok ugha vkrhA).40-41) 51 . gok bl [kqys fxykl esa Hkh ?kql xbZ gksxh). I have smaller homes also like ponds and lakes. I now take the form of small 'droplets'." (p. When the drops become heavier. Readers to Reflect: What do you think about the traditional questions on ‘air’ found in primary textbooks? Do you think children can understand and answer the following? 1. The Class II children depend on what they see and experience. 2. (f[kM+fd. What kinds of questions do you think we can ask children at different stages of primary school to help them understand about air and what observations can they make? 2. I come back to the earth in the form of rain. What is air made of? 3.Planting of trees. (When the fan does not move. on the 'water cycle' in “Let's look around and learn” the EVS textbook formerly used for Class III (NCERT. What is the effect of the following activities on air? . no air comes).ksafd gok gj rjiQ gksrh gS] blfy. There are many tiny particles of dust and smoke in the air above. These droplets keep 'floating' in the air.ksa esa ls gok vanj vkrh gS) which the Class VI children seem to have started engaging with.d txg tek gksrh gS] rc Hkkjh yxrh gS] ojuk IkSQyus Ikj Hkkj Ikrk ugha pyrkA These responses clearly show that the understanding of children with regard to the concept of air (like all other concepts) is age specific.(gok IksM+ksa osQ vanj ls fudyrh gS) They still do not relate to the idea of air occupying all the available space. I change into 'water vapour'.

kA) us Ikkuh pwl fy.kA) “The bowl has absorbed the water. By the age 16 about seventy per cent moved towards the correct response but twenty five per cent still held the ‘water changed into oxygen and hydrogen’ theory. Readers to Reflect: Do you think concepts like 'density' or ‘condensation’ can be understood by children of this age? How do we expect them to think about convection of ‘water vapour’. 1983) found that forty five per cent children at 15 years said that when a washed plate dried up. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 20 (9). children aged 7-8 years had this to say: “Water has disappeared. p 825-838. a major study in New Zealand (Osborne and Cosgrove. has been abandoned. who need to know how to be governed. Moreover.” (ikuh xk. while about five per cent still felt water did not exist as anything. Notice that even the question asked in the study does not use terms like ‘evaporate’ but instead uses words closer to children’s language. but do not develop a more critical understanding of the social and political realities of their lives.kA) “Water has changed into air.” us Ikkuh Ikh fy. etc.3 How Do We Govern Ourselves? A Good Question. even after seeing a classroom demonstration of evaporation of water heated in a bowl. and only forty five per cent chose the correct option that ‘the water goes into the air as small bits of water’. and only compels teachers to assume that ‘gaseous form’. evaporation. condensation. the ‘water changed into oxygen and hydrogen in the air’ while ten per cent said ‘the water did not exist as anything’. such as ‘small bits of water’.” What do you think about these responses of children? How and at which stage do you think should the ‘water cycle’ be introduced in school? There is a lot of research being conducted across the world on what children think about matter and the particles that a substance is made of. obedient citizens.” (dVksjh (vkx (ikuh “The fire drank the water. it only creates an illusion that they have understood the idea. The colonial idea of teaching children to be ‘good’. to understand that vapour moves upwards the child needs to understand ‘density’ of cold and hot air. For instance.c gks x. change of state of water.kA) gok cu x. ‘water vapour’. to reason why hot air rises and so on. which they do not observe? Indeed. The traditional teaching of ‘government formation’ or the Constitution to 52 . can be dealt with at this stage. when we know they are not yet ready to understand them? 2. Then why do we force terms and concepts on children at a much younger age.It may seem like a story but it deals with concepts which children do not understand. It is important for teachers to value their own experiences regarding children’s learning and use assessment exercises to gives space to children's ideas. Indeed! The NCF-2005 has reviewed the teaching of the area of social science traditionally called ‘civics’ and even changed its name to Social and Political Life. If they repeat memorised responses.

The process of formation of State Government starts with elections to the Legislative Assembly…The Council of Ministers under the leadership of the Chief Minister of the State assists the Governor in taking care of the State affairs. “Can you tell us what Parliament is?” “It makes laws and corrects mistakes. If one group does not have the majority. Lok Sabha ..” “At present which party do the members of Parliament belong to?” “Congress” “All of them?” “Yes” 53 . What they learn Discussions with some children studying in Class VIII in a rural school show that even at the age of 14 years of age. The ministers in the Cabinet are taken from both the Houses.….. the passages from “Let's look around and learn” . with all kinds of facts about processes. 'Then?' 'When both sides are equal.. the President will vote. The whole administration is run under the control of the Cabinet...” “The 500 odd people who are members of the Parliament have all won elections to reach there.. Do they all belong to one party or to different parties?” “One party.According to our Constitution. The President appoints the leader of the majority group as the Prime Minister.EVS Textbook for Class V (NCERT.The Union Cabinet is constituted under the leadership of the Prime Minister.. 196).. General Elections are held after every five years in which people elect their representatives…For elections to the Lok Sabha. In every constituency.. the whole power lies in the hands of the people. a number of groups can get together to form the majority…. they understand this concept in the following ways: 'Tell us : how does someone become a Prime Minister?' 'The people vote."(p... which are too complex and far removed from them.Every State also has a government. These candidates can be representatives of any political party or can even be independent candidates. For example.young children is boring and meaningless. In each State the number of the members of the Legislative Assembly is decided according to the population in the State. What We Teach Let us look at what we routinely teach. Lesson 16: How Do We Govern Ourselves Union Government .The majority group in the Lok Sabha elects its leader.” “All 500 of them?” “Yes. the whole country has been divided into electoral constituencies.. what students learn and what we evaluate about the notion of governance. more than one candidate can contest. State Government . The President will select a person from amongst them and make the person Prime Minister. 2004) seem to be quite disconnected with the way children even in Class VIII think about these concepts.

. If more than half say that he can be the PM.” “Where is the Centre? Where does the Central Government work?” Silence . “Which government sits in Delhi?” “State Government.198) Readers to Reflect: Why do we ask such questions and what learning do we expect to assess through these? The discussions quoted here were with children in Class VIII .” “That’s good.. to put together a coherent picture. the choice of 54 .... 2003. We realise that ideas such as 'political parties' ‘majority party’ and the making of a Prime Minister are vaguely developed in their minds. Tell us.. can you tell?” Silence . even many among us. Can you appreciate the situation of much younger children in Class V in dealing with the ideas and information related to the formation and functioning of the government? Conversations with children help us see the evolving and struggling thoughts of children.. To fully develop their learning potential . “Okay – have you heard of the CM? Who is a CM?” Silence . how did the President choose the Prime Minister from these 500 members?” “These 500 people cast their vote... to trigger their interest and direct their curiosity towards real events around them – they need to be encouraged and supported much more. perhaps would not be able to answer the usual questions asked in primary school: • What is common in the election of the PM of India and the CM of a State? • Who does the President appoint as the Prime Minister? • Who can be appointed as ministers in the cabinet? (EVS textbook for Class V NCERT.” “Okay – but can you explain how this happened?” “Someone will vote – someone will say : make this person the PM – someone will say no don't make..the ability to deduce.. p.” Discussion with another child aged 14 years: “Who all are in the government. to analyse and check the inconsistency in a line of reasoning. Why is it bigger?” “Because it is the government of the Centre. How did he become the PM?..older. who all are there in the Lok Sabha? Do they all belong to one party?” “Yes – they do. more aware and better read than primary children. “Where is a State Government located? Where is its capital?” Silence .” “Through the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.” What we ask to evaluate their learning! Many adults. “All right – which government is the bigger government – the Central Government or the State Government?” “Central Government.” “Okay – tell us who is the PM at present..“All right.. to synthesise different kinds of information. then he will become. Moreover.” “Fine..

you may ask them . as is the case with most educated adults today. the world. The children were encouraged to use their own symbols and show at least the following landmarks on their map: . It is important that what they draw and discuss should be based on space they can visualise and name in their own way. they will not be able. “No. Discussions on what they have drawn will help them understand how we represent ‘far and near’. The child put his finger on the boundary between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. and asked. When we moved a finger across the international boundary to what is Nepal. ‘above and below’. and wondered if that was also India. which they can present in their drawings and sketches. For example. “Not even a little bit?” he persisted. to develop concepts that help them comprehend and use conventional maps. ‘this side and that side’. He asked. “Are we in India or outside it?” . boundaries and units in the two dimensional drawings on paper. their dimensions and relations. Many such experiences and studies indicate that children need more opportunities to engage concretely with the representation of large spaces on paper. not even a little bit” we had to confess! Similarly. a child in Class VI. As part of this report we had undertaken a discussion and exercises on map making with children of an elementary school living in a residential colony near Jamia Milla Islamia in Delhi. middle school children (of age 1115 years) have been seen to trace the course of the river to the coast and then continue tracing it down the coast line and up the coast line in the other direction! ‘Where is land and where is water?’. They will need to be gradually made conscious of how their ‘maps’ will evolve differently from their ‘drawings’: while in drawings they will use their creative imagination and even fantasy to show their own original thinking. paused where the name Rajasthan was written. If we force them to only memorise map-based facts for exams. children would go on saying “yes. 2. ‘big and small’. ‘in front and behind’.S.and as you move your fingers from the land mass to the oceans. we are”. “But this is Madhya Pradesh”. thereby touching a little bit both”.The child said “We are in India. ‘more and less’.4 How do children understand maps? Children in primary school begin to form their own ideas about the organisation of space and its use. in going over the physical map of the country. Children need to engage and struggle with these units of ‘space’. in a well developed form. It has been observed that young children do not visualise the continuous space of states. that are related to the experiences and intuitive concepts at that age. “Does it not come in Rajasthan?” “No” we said. This ability can be strengthened by inviting them to draw more and more of what they see and imagine. The colony consists of two parallel roads with four by-lanes cutting at right angles.”.K's house 55 . continents. reading the map of India. we told him. The new NCERT syllabus has been developed in the light of all this. to engage with even the most commonly used road directions or location maps they encounter in everyday life. in maps they need to develop an ability to understand ‘perspective’ (how something looks when seen from different positions) and how to represent realistic situations through standard conventions.‘content’ must take into account possible ways of teaching in schools.Their own house . countries. asking ‘are we still on land?’.

Map III (an 8 year old girl Uzera).Faculty of Education .. The following maps were drawn by children of different ages: Map I (a 13 year old girl Ainee). Map-I Map-II 56 .Faculty of Law. Map II (a 10 year old boy Hamza).

Hamza (Map II) has marked some of the landmarks correctly in terms of alignment and orientation.Map-III Uzera (Map III). However. Children need to be gradually made conscious of the differences between a realistic representation and a map.” How can the road turn back when we walk ahead? If she walks to a house on the left hand side of a road. He has interestingly drawn road ‘Y’ turning away instead of turning back. She also does not yet distinguish between the actual experience of walking in a given space and the abstract ‘aerial view’ of that space. in the sense that the actual route between the two may be longer but the places can be quite close in space. she shows the road also turning towards that side. textbooks use maps appropriate for adults. is not yet able to visualise and imagine things in space. He too has not yet developed an aerial perspective.“We go ahead to reach Mahvish's house. the youngest. He is also not yet able to visualise that the road ‘Y’ turns back and argues “We keep walking away from SK's house in order to reach the bakery. then we keep on walking to reach SK's house. Even 8 year old Uzera’s textbook uses the conventional 57 .” He cannot imagine that a building which takes him so long to reach is actually at the back of his house and so close in space. She insists that . She is able to imagine and draw the parallel road and has developed an aerial perspective. We see from their drawings the difference in development of the idea of ‘perspective’ at different ages. Ainee (Map I) has drawn and identified the landmarks correctly in terms of their orientation and relative positions. so the road must go on and on ahead. There were other children of this age group who held the same view. which children cannot understand.

58 . size of objects. the child has drawn the fans in the middle of the room. In drawing the map of the classroom also. location in terms of relative position. He has used icons for the objects in class. ‘front’ or side. children will need help in understanding ‘perspective’ that is from where we look at things.map of India and neighbouring countries. He clearly cannot yet decide whether the room is to be viewed from the ‘top’. while she is still grappling with icons (Map III) and does not differentiate between a picture and a map. which they can see and draw. Younger children can be introduced to mapping by helping them draw the map of their classroom or any small area and slowly progress to drawing and reading maps of bigger areas. etc. In the following map. This is how two Class III children have drawn different maps of the same classroom. the use of symbols.

P (points to U.The following conversation with 11-year-old Zahra. It is also written on boards. She also does not have a conceptual understanding about what a state or district is.— International boundary ----.National boundary ---. she is studying in one of the well known schools of Delhi and also manages to score high marks in traditional questions about maps. 59 . 2004).P. gives us more insights into children’s thinking. Readers to Reflect: After reading the above discussion think about the following maps and questions from the chapter “Our Country – Its Surface” of Let's look around and learn” EVS Textbook for Class V (NCERT. how do you get to know that you have reached? Zahra – “Papa knows.” She draws to show: —. Incidentally.District boundary Teacher – “Where are these boundaries made?” Zahra – “On the ground. I never bothered to see.” The above conversation shows that Zahra is not clear about the use of conventional symbols in maps. ----.” Teacher – “When you go to Shahjahanpur from U.. Zahra – “In U.” Teacher – “Is there any boundary drawn between India and Nepal?” Zahra – “Yes. ----.P.” Teacher – “Have you ever seen these boundaries?” Zahra – “No. ---. The ‘skill’ of drawing and reading of maps cannot be separated from the development of concepts. But now when I go to Shajahanpur I will look down to see the district boundary. rather they must be linked to help the child form a mental map of different spaces. who has the conventional map of India in her Class VI textbook. in the textbook map). the international boundary. —.----. There are boundaries. Teacher – “How do you travel to Shahjahanpur” Zahra – “By car” Teacher – “In which state is Shahjahanpur located.

This has been shown in green colour.Can the children learn about the different surfaces from these maps? How can the children answer the following questions given in the book by looking at the maps? . the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. .Find out why desert areas are hot during the day and cool during the night. (p. This is called the Northern Plain. Many of their tributaries also start from the Himalayas. 153-154) 60 . we can see a very big plain. 2004).Why does water freeze on the high mountains? Now look at the following map given on page 153 “Let’s Look Around and Learn” EVS textbook for Class V (NCERT. Let us locate these rivers in the map on page 153. To the south of the northern mountains. and also the excerpt following this map. The surface of this land is almost plain. Lesson 14 : Our Country – Its Surface Some of the rivers that originate from the Himalayas are the Sindhu. Let us look at the map given on page 153 and find out the spread of the Northern Plain. This Plain spreads from Rajasthan in the west to Assam in the east.What is the climate of the coastal areas? .

like from the top. enquiry from friends and neighbours. The concept of ‘water cycle’ is not included. not to scale in the neighborhood with the help of a map using non-standard symbols/indicators country) and locating places on the globe • Need for scale and standard symbols on a map New Syllabus (Syllabus for Classes at the Elementary Level.5. 106) Class III Questions Mapping my neighbourhood How big is your school? What kind of a building is it? Can you draw a picture of your school and your classroom? Do you know your way around your neighbourhood? Can we explain to someone how to reach the post office or the bus stand from our house? Key Concepts/Issues Neighbourhood. Let us see how the syllabus has been changed in the case of maps. 2. Drawing a map of the route from your house to the nearest shop.5 Changes in the Syllabus: Focus on Children’s Learning The new EVS syllabus has been substantially changed to allow adequate space for children’s learning to develop fully and deeply. some concepts that cannot be dealt with by them at this stage have been excluded. 48) Class III • Location of places (in the Class IV • Locating important places Class V • Reading maps (state. Suggested Resources Survey of different parts of the school. 117-118) Mapping your neighbourhood Who are your neighbours? Do you have any of the Introduction to the concept of giving directions with respect to Class IV Child's experiences. they can also not understand abstract relationships between different ‘states of water’. counting the number of steps and estimation of 61 . which they will memorise without understanding? 2. NCERT. For instance. 2001) Theme: Shelter (p.1. Nor are the concepts of work. in all its variety of aspects.Do you think that the children will be able to make any linkages between the map and the excerpt? Will the children be able to ‘read’ from the map what is explained in the excerpt? Are we passing only information to the children. Old Syllabus (Guidelines and Syllabi for Primary Stage. survey of the neighbourhood Suggested Activities Estimating distances. observation and Discussion. Directions.1 and 2. More importantly. NCERT. which has been well researched and known to be difficult to comprehend even at the age of 12 years. village/town) through use of symbols and map. Theme: Shelter (p. mapping and representation in two dimensions. enquiry. 2006) Theme: Shelter (p. just as children cannot grasp ‘properties of air’ (in Section 2. marking locations of places and drawing/mapping from different perspectives.2). energy or force. from the front etc.

distance for making a preliminary map. How would you compare maps in the old textbooks and traditional questions in examinations with some of these exercises (from the new NCERT textbooks in mathematics and EVS). Suggested Activities Observation from a terrace to draw its aerial view. This is linked to the concept of mapping. if any. they also read accounts of how people travel today in a desert. films. in the hills. Theme: Travel (p. In Class V the theme ‘Travel’ takes children through the ‘rough and tough’ terrain of the Himalayas with the story of Bachhendri Pal. and other media as ‘resources’. while they are encouraged to design a flag for their own school. where different perspectives get introduced. who hoists the national flag after a difficult expedition. both in EVS and Mathematics. Local map/chart of the school and its neighbourhood. in the context of developing children’s understanding of maps? 62 . previous knowledge of routes. Moreover in Class III they are introduced to a map of Agra with familiar icons with a narrative which describes the experience of two children visiting the city.following near my house – a school. or in big cities. grocery shop. well. posters. Chawla Basic exposure to the aerial view of the earth and what India looks like from there. through forests. The theme also takes them on a ‘ride on a spacecraft’ into space. which they begin in Class III through a basic two-dimensional representation of their classroom. This story helps children relate to the abstract iconic map and to look for the locations described. use of a scale. through different views of the school and other objects. market. Moreover. from where for the first time they see the aerial view of the earth. Schools could use stories. In Classes III-IV children are encouraged to look at their own journeys. into newer and unfamiliar terrains of often mind-boggling and no less fascinating diversity. it suggests a story as a ‘resource’. to bring into the classroom the experiences of a child of a migrating family and the problems she most face in the process of her schooling. river or pond? Where are they with respect to your house? any landmark. so that by the time they reach Class V they can read and draw simple aerial views of their locality or city. plays. The exercises of looking at aerial views are developed gradually. visits. further use of symbols. Imagine yourself in a spacecraft giving an interview to the PM about what you see from there. and to see how older people in their family may have travelled in earlier times. 133) Class V Questions Ride on a space-craft What do you see in the sky – at daytime? And at night? How many of the things that you see in the sky are manmade? Have you heard of people travelling in a spacecraft? Key Concepts/Issues Suggested Resources The sky in the day and Story of Rakesh Sharma/Kalpana at night. The theme on ‘Travel’ in the new syllabus was developed specially to help the child on the a journey of ideas. of expanding social and physical spaces. also a preliminary mapping process.

Example-2: Mapping–Trip to Agra (Math Magic Class III. Staircase Staircase Table Chair Pencil Bus (b) Draw the top views of a few things and ask your friends to guess what they are. 56-57) 63 . They get down at Agra Cantt. 2006. Railway Station and take a rickshaw to the Taj Mahal. NCERT 2006 p. 2) (a) Here are some pictures. they start for Agra Fort. NCERT.1 Perspective (Math Magic Class III. 2006 (p. 56-57) Marie and Baichung are going with their family to Agra.Example. again in a rickshaw. NCERT. In the afternoon they take a bus to go to Fatehpur Sikri. After 3 hours. Find out from where you have to look to see the things this way.(Math-Magic Texbook for Class III. p.

Example-3 Mapping (Math Magic Class III, NCERT, 2006, p. 74-75)

2.5.2 Change in the syllabus in the area of ‘governance’ Old Syllabus (Guidelines and Syllabi for Primary Stage, NCERT, 2001) Theme Shelter (p. 48)
Class III — Class IV — Class V Buildings in the community– school, Panchayat Ghar, Health Centre, Post Office, Police Station – their major roles

Routine topics from the area of civics such as government formation are not included in the new syllabus. What is included, is a more concrete introduction to the notion of institutions that children experience, through themes such as the following: New Syllabus (Syllabus for Classes at the Elementary Level, NCERT, 2006) Theme : Family and Friends (p. 115-116) Sub Theme : Plants Class IV
Questions To whom do trees belong? Which plants/trees around you are looked after by people – by whom? Which are not? To whom do they belong? Who eats the Key Concepts/Issues Neighbourhood and its plants; wild and domestic plants; Fruits eaten by people living in forests. Cutting trees. Suggested Resources Local knowledge, information about domestic and wild plants (NBT books). Suggested Activities Listing of some common trees in the neighbourhood; discussion about ownership of trees; fruits that are not eaten by us.

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fruit of trees that grow wild? Special occasions When do many people eat together? What food is eaten? Who cooks it? How is it served? Do you get a mid day meal in school? What items? Who provides the mid day meal?

Community eating; Mid day meal (where applicable). Cultural diversity in foods associated with special occasions like festivals, family celebrations/ ceremonies etc. Boarding school.

Visit to a langar or other such places, occasions, talking to people who cook on such occasions. Narratives about hostel food/pantry car of train.

Discussion on occasions at which there is community eating; Listing of the different foods eaten at different occasions; drawing and descriptions of the large utensils used on such occasions

Theme : Shelter (p. 130)
Questions Class V Key Concepts/Issues Disaster and trauma of losing one’s home; community help; hospitals, police stations, ambulance, shelters, fire station, first aid. Suggested Resources Newspaper clippings. Suggested Activities Discussion, finding out about the hospital, police station, fire station, etc.

Times of emergency
Have you heard of houses being damaged by floods/earthquakes/cyclones/ fires/storms/lightning? What would it have felt like? Who are the people who come to help? What can you do to help others before the doctor comes? Where can we look for help at such times? Who runs such institutions?

2.6 Integrating ‘Subjects’? - Moving from ‘Topics’ to Themes
What do we understand by general science and social studies? When we think of these ‘subjects’ in school we clearly have in mind some body of knowledge and also typical ways of acquiring that knowledge that we associate with each of these. These school subjects have evolved through their own complicated histories and are today quite different from the way sciences or social sciences are practised in the real world. Therefore, for an integrated approach we do not proceed with lists of ‘topics’ from different ‘subjects’, but instead propose new ‘themes’ that allow for a connected and inter-related understanding to develop. This requires moving beyond traditional boundaries of disciplines and looking at priorities in a shared way. The new NCERT syllabus has an enabling format, which indicates the key themes and sub themes along with their possible connections. It consciously begins with key questions rather than key concepts, which can trigger the child’s thinking in new directions and ‘scaffold’ her learning process. It also indicates how adults can stimulate and actively support children’s learning, rather than restrict or throttle it, as often happens when children are forced to memorise information they just cannot understand.

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2.6.1 Themes in the New Primary Syllabus
The new syllabus is woven around six broad themes given below; the predominant theme on ‘Family and Friends’ is made of four sub-themes: 1 Family and Friends – 1.1 Relationships; 1.2 Work and Play; 1.3 Animals; 1.4 Plants 2 Food; 3 Shelter; 4 Water; 5 Travel; 6 Things We Make and Do The syllabus-web moves outward over the three years and gradually extends the child’s understanding of her world, beginning from the immediate ‘self’ to include her family, the neighbourhood, the locality and also the country. Thus by the time the child reaches Class V, she is able to see her ‘self’ in the larger context – as part of a community, the country and also, more tacitly, as located in this world. Indeed, in some flights of fancy the syllabus even goads the young child to ride on a spacecraft and leap beyond the earth, into outer space, that may yet not be comprehensible but is certainly fascinating for her. Thus, for instance, the theme ‘Food’ begins in Class III with ‘cooking’, ‘eating in the family’, about what we eat and what others eat, what animals eat, etc. It then moves on in Class IV to how food is grown, what different plants they may have seen, how food reaches us, etc. In Class V children discuss who grows it, the hardships farmers may face, while staying grounded to the reality of our own pangs of hunger or the plight of people who do not get food. In addition, ‘when food gets spoilt’ explores spoilage and preservation of food, while changes in food habits and the crops grown are analysed through the experiences of elders/grandparents. Finally ‘our mouth - tastes and even digests food’ sees how saliva makes food taste sweet on chewing, while ‘food for plants’ also introduces the idea of some curious insect-eating plants.
Class III (Syllabus) Questions Foods from plants and animals Which of these is food – red ants, bird’s nests, snakes, bananas, goat’s milk, etc.? What plants do you eat - what parts of the plant? What food do we take from animals? Eating in the family Do all members of your family eat the same food? Who eats more? Who eats last in your family? Who buys the food and what is bought from the market? Who cooks the food in Key Concepts/Issues Appreciation of cultural diversity in food; basic ideas about various plant used as food; food from animals. Suggested Resources Regional narratives and stories about ‘unusual’ foods mentioned. Suggested Activities Listing and discussing about food, we eat or do not eat; tabulating food we take from different plants and animals. Observing and drawing different parts of plants eaten.

Different eating practices in the family. Amount of food varying with gender, age, physical activity, etc. Cooking and gender/caste roles in the family; Food for the baby,

Everyday experience, local knowledge. Poems/illustrations on gender stereotyping.

Observation and asking adults, discussion. Listing of food items bought from the market/grown at home.

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developing good questions. or the one who has her house swept away by floods every year? If a person suffers from water borne diseases. making hypotheses and inferences Experimentation – Improvisation. 8. making things and doing experiments. 10. 6. It must address with empathy the child’s real world experience. narrating and drawing. sharing and working together. EVS must deal with real issues of. to understand some reasons behind the supply of dirty water. Classification – Categorising. 3. The teacher will need to observe at least 3-5 children each day and keep a brief record in her register. and even some issues of gender. 2. say ‘water’ or ‘food’. Concern for Justice and Equality – Sensitivity towards the disadvantaged and differently abled. 2. making pictures. In the Section? we give the progress report of a child from Class III and Class V. etc. talking. tables and maps. which are vastly varied. This way the child’ progress is recorded and parents also get to know what activities are conducted in school. can an EVS classroom mechanically point out that what he drinks is ‘dirty’ water. to ‘boil’ which would actually require impractical time and fuel. 5. creative writing. Discussion – Listening. 9. by connecting these to the children’s ‘real’ experiences of water and food. body movements. 7. so that by month end she has some observation about each child. Explanation – Reasoning. picture-reading.your family? What do babies have for food? When do babies start eating and what do they eat other than milk? significance of milk. Cooperation – taking responsibility and initiative. Questioning – Expressing curiosity. Expression – Drawing. expressing opinions. Observation and Recording – Reporting. grouping. finding out from other people. Whose concept of ‘water’ do we talk about – that child’s who walks miles across the desert to see a trickle. contrasting and comparing. sculpting. 1. critical thinking. 4. There is often a feeling that perhaps primary children are ‘too young’ to understand these issues. but most children live these situations and have deep insights about them. and that ‘conserving water’ or living with ‘water scarcity’ is indeed much more challenging than making posters or giving routine answers. caste and class that determine how water relates to illness. Others who may live in protected environments also need to understand ‘water’ – that it is not just what flows through a purifying filter or at the press of a flush button. sources of contamination. This will help in making the quarterly progress report. 67 . Analysis – Predicting. as do an alarming majority of our children. making logical connections. to show how the teacher comments and gives a grade to each indicator.7 Indicators for Assessment in EVS A broad list of indicators for assessment has been drawn up so that teachers plan tasks and questions that deal with each of these.

Learning in EVS. normally no need for that given in the textbook. schools and textbooks might merely make a mention but my students went much deeper and wider – they saw them eating. which are reluctant to take children out and are not convinced that learning does happen outside. Moreover. differed and argued. For instance a Class II government school teacher reflects on her visit to the stable near the school: “In the name of horses. we can see that if the trend in examinations is on getting one ‘correct’ canonical answer. where the teacher can also assess and enhance their learning. short answer questions play.8) and record and reflect on what learning is happening. The following examples highlight the limited role that recall-based. then classrooms would only focus on children reproducing that.Section III 3. and made oral 68 . EVS is described as learning about things around us. Questions can be used potentially to make children think and engage with concepts.Learning about Horses from their Caretakers The world 'visit' word often raises eyebrows in schools. yet we do not give children opportunities to explore their own environment collectively. They made guesses about horses. In this section we shall look closely at what happens in real classrooms. If there are only information-based questions with short answers. necessarily requires a rich and varied assessment system. they prepared questions to ask the caretakers of horses and learnt how to make ‘useful’ questions. A Visit to the Stable – Learning about Horses from their Caretakers 2. teachers will not see why they should do anything else in the class that does not get assessed. How can teachers encourage children’s own expressions as part of their learning. sleeping and getting a bath. using more sensitive approaches towards assessment and a better understanding of children’s development? We look at the following three EVS sessions : 1. 3. Papa Can Cook – Questioning Stereotypes and Nurturing Sensitivity 3. where textbooks and syllabi cut across traditional boundaries of disciplines.1 A Visit to a Stable . they discussed. They wrote their questions. We shall also see how teachers assess learning in students in terms of the indicators for EVS (Section 2. and how and why ‘learning’ happens in some cases while not much learning takes place in others. Hard or Soft? – Experience Helps Children to Understand Classification. EVS Classrooms that Enhance Learning What does it mean to learn EVS? What kinds of learning can we expect to happen in an EVS classroom? NCF 2005 promotes an integrated approach to learning in elementary school. spoke to different people and collected information. With the help of classroom observations we will be able to see how teacher's questions can trigger learning and enquiry.

I then divided the students in five groups of four each. the happiness that they felt reflected in could be seen on their faces. sleeping time etc. The song has incidents on a post office. I asked them to develop questions in their groups. a reporter and a helper. postman. stable. milkman. stones. we reach the bus stand. Teacher .What else can we do? The class became very quiet. an interviewer. Teacher . the students told me about everything that they were observing . When we take a turn from there. Nisha even enacted how a bride and a groom sit on it. I asked the children if they knew where horses live.a writer.What will we do in the stable? Saroj . So I said that we could talk to the people who took care of those horses. After this. This visit was full of fun for all of them.Have you seen a horse’s house somewhere around? Neelu .when will you take us? Teacher . when they discussed and made questions. 69 .presentations. so that they could remember both the things. Every group had four roles to be played . I was trying to activate their familiar associations and schema through these ideas. we see there lot of horses. Rakhi . I had already made chits for every group and for every role. traffic signals — everything gave rise to discussion. So first we will make preparations for the stable visit and then go. Children narrated interesting instances of their imagination. fruits. While grouping them I ensured that every group had one girl who could write and one who could read. it is close to Kavita’s home.In a jungle. We could ask about the horses’ food. to begin a new unit ‘My Neighborhood’. The traffic signal reminded Khusboo of various shapes so everybody started observing shapes. All these are very important elements of learning and knowledge construction. we sang a song ‘Around Us’ (aas-paas).goats. etc. hens. Teacher . The writer had to note down at least five questions. they even wrote some reports.” The following is also an excerpt from her diary: “After the Morning-Message activity. All the girls sat on the chariot.Whenever we visit a place. All of them asked .A horses’ home is called a stable. Group I Group II — Do horses bathe in the morning or evening? What time do they take a bath? When do they sleep? What do horses eat? — Do horses take a bath? What are the kinds of clothes that horses wear? Where do all mares(ghori) go? — When are horses taken out for a walk? When are they given a bath? Group III Group IV — How do you take care of horses ? When do horses give rides to people? Group V — How many boy children do horses have? How many girl children do horses have?(Ghora-Ghori ke ladke kitne hain? Ghora-Ghori ki ladkiyan kitnee hain?) When we walked to the stable. we first prepare for it. Teacher . Today we will visit a stable. I sat with every group.Yes Didi. Every group then presented their questions. After listening to this.We will see the horses. stable-keeper.

and created an opportunity for the students to interact with their local environment. this experience actually strengthened and improved their reading and writing skills. The interviewers (students who had to ask questions) felt shy while asking questions and did not ask properly. but the interviewer could not ask some questions properly. because the activity involved a lot of writing and reading their own writing.” The Class II teacher assessed her students' learning through the following: 1. They are just learning to read and write so some problems were inevitable. But as a teacher I was prepared for this crisis. The helper in every group herself required help. Analysing questions developed by the students before the visit 3. Community activities should form the basis of a school. the traffic signal triggered an interest in various shapes. ginger and gram. She pointed out many of them and kept observing shapes throughout her way to the stable.In our society a stable has never become a ‘source of learning’ for anyone. onion. Not only my students but I too learnt many new things about horses. The team had developed good questions. counted the horses. However. but it is hardly done. When the stable-workers explained things to the students they had become teachers. Mares are dressed for wedding processions and are given a bath once in three days. Group. She also noticed that there was only one pony in the stable. She also communicated it to her peers. As a teacher it is my responsibility to critically choose what can be a good learning experience for my students. spoke to the workers in groups and found out about many things. and there was only one pony in the stable.1. After all only a stable-worker can tell about horses. their animals. They can sleep while sitting. Students visited the stable. He works with them day and night.1. therefore I gave importance to local people. Some students could not read the questions they had developed on their own as they cannot read. however during the visit today. all the groups discussed and made presentations. 3. There were definitely problems that I faced. • • 70 . Students' oral and written presentations 4. Involvement of the community in the learning process is widely discussed and appreciated. Just one visit led to so much learning in a short time! After coming back. Students' drawings and acting. Observing students' participation 2. Farah made a quick observation that all the horses were white in colour except one. The students found out that the stable only kept mares and that mares eat potatoes. Some comments from the teacher's observation records: • As soon as we entered.work : Group IV members could not coordinate many things. While shapes were taught in the class Khushboo could not identify them. their activities. but I needed to work with them on their presentation skills. garlic.

They also have a young one in the stable. it ensures better learning. They were interacting with the stable workers. • Group III members asked their questions very confidently. The report had a logical flow of ideas. However it was interesting that group II showed that all horses were of same shape and size. The stable worker gives them a bath once in 3 days. She wrote in her diary. However. but they could not ask them while in the classroom. articulation and organisation of the ideas.3. whereas group V showed variation in horses’ sizes.Even during the enactment they kept laughing all the time and as a result they missed out many points. Meenu patiently acted like a horse throughout the scene. They had made observations. Teacher's assessment of children's questions Initially children were reluctant as it was their first opportunity to frame questions in a classroom. There was a good variety though all groups made similar questions. Two groups drew pictures of the stable. She also assessed their written reports. clothes hung on a wall. fodder. Teacher's record on drawings and acting Two groups enacted scenes but only one could communicate well. A horse also gets stomach-ache because it likes to have a lot of gram. Teacher's assessment of group presentations The teacher had kept a record of all the group reports. Their drawings showed that they had minutely observed various things like — the placement of a bucket. I have to develop their questioning skills. Seema showed very well how a stable keeper gives a bath to the horses. garlic. because children ask such questions at home. A horse sleeps while sitting. onion. Mares eat gram. “If I plan carefully. I had expected such questions. She ignored spelling and syntax errors during this EVS assessment.1.1. One group prepared the following report (Translated from Hindi): “We had asked questions to know about mares. Only mares go for a wedding procession so they only keep mares. potato.” The teacher had made the following comments on the above group report: The group had prepared a coherent and comprehensive report. When the students made a presentation. Their recorder Shweta also wrote the conversation diligently. 3. ginger. like horses can sleep even while sitting.2. though in her language lessons she kept those errors in mind. Although she struggled with many spellings like (?kksj] IksB] ^dksdh*] ^pku*] ^csBs*) 3. so stable workers earn their income.4. It was very heartening to see that Class II children could write such a long report about their visit. colour and health. Mares make money by going for wedding processions.1. etc. none of the groups made any questions on the health of the horses. Children had made a logical connection that mares are kept in a stable because they are the source of income of the stable workers. 3. the teacher assessed them on the basis of logical flow. on the basis of originality of ideas and expression. which I myself did not know.” 71 .

They learnt to make meaningful questions. • Who are the characters shown in the two families and how are they related to Venu and Rani? • What kind of work is each member of the family doing? • Do you see anything special or strange about the work each person is doing? The teacher also sat for a few minutes with each group and helped probe further by asking. In these interactions we can see how classroom discussions help children to think and articulate about gender stereotypes.92) of EVS textbook Class III and compare the families shown. It is a demanding activity that triggers tremendous learning — children are encouraged to use many of their skills and concepts to generate new ‘knowledge’ and deep understanding. the activity itself gave them meaning and motivation to write and read their own writing. In fact.2 Papa Can Cook: Questioning Stereotypes and Nurturing Sensitivity The following are two interactions with Class III children on the theme of ‘Food and Gender’ from Looking Around (NCERT. They were asked to look at the above two pictures (p.Children are capable of much more than what our traditional EVS classrooms demand. to organise the information they collected. In the above example of a ‘Visit to a Stable’. Asking questions like “Why can't father cook?” are important as children need opportunities to review and interrogate can also be retained their biases with regard to gender roles. students of Class II were able to actively participate in the process of learning despite their limited reading and writing capabilities. 72 . 2006). categorise it and present it both orally and through their reports. to respect and empathise with the people they spoke to. 3. First Session: Thirty seven children of the class were divided into five groups. in terms of the following points.

people are allowed to play different roles.” – “I don’t help. She might read later.” – “What will happen if mother falls ill?” – “We will have to eat noodles.” – “Why can’t papa cook?” – (Different voices) “Because he goes out to work.” “Look she is carrying grass on her head.” – “Because women and girls are supposed to do the housework.” – “Because he comes only in the evening and mother is at home all day. Zohra Nosheen Asrar – “My father is not able to help as he goes out for his work.” – ‘I don’t help as I go to school. if more such opportunities of debate and discussion are provided in class.” – “Papas don’t cook. as seen around them.” Teacher Students 73 . You were preparing food ‘Roti Sabzi’ for your children.” Second Session:In the second interaction the teacher enacted a five-minute scene of cooking roti and subzi and serving it to them. because you were cooking. The question in the book “Who does not help in cooking food in the family and why?” again resulted in animated responses.” One advantage of the small group discussion was that a child like Sohail was confronted with a different perspective which might make him think differently. They are trying to grapple with reasons for these roles. But some children seemed quite clear about their choices.” These responses show that children may not yet be rigid in their ideas about gendered roles.” Aafreen – “She might not be getting time from her household chores.93). which I like.” – “How can you become Papa.” Some of the children in his group did not agree with him and one responded as follows.” – “But I was ‘Papa’ in this drama. Then you gave food to Shirin and Israr. Without worrying about a 'noisy' class the teacher gave opportunities for a lively discussion and then asked them to fill the following worksheet (p. So I was doing Papa’s acting. Madiha – “All the members are eating together in Venu's family.” – “We will go to a hotel and eat. we all sit together and eat.Teacher – “Why do you think Rani’s mother is not reading the newspaper while Venu’s mother is doing so?” Shoaib – “Probably she doesn’t know how to read. Teacher Students Teacher Students Teacher Students Teacher Students – “What was I doing in the scene? Whose acting was I doing?” – “You were ‘Mummy’ in the scene.” Israfil – “She is not reading at this moment. Sohail – “Why is Venu’s father cleaning the floor? This is not his work.” He further said: “I like Rani’s family as she is serving food to her father and brother. – “You were not Papa in this drama. because I am not a girl. In my family also. you are a girl?” – “But in a drama. Girls do this kind of work.

She gave a new angle to the discussion by arguing. girls are supposed to do this work. I used to come back at night very tired and my husband used to be back much earlier. 3. “Men cook in hotels. helped the group to further engage in discussion and gain newer insights about good salaries given to chefs and khansamas.” There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers in the above discussion as these responses are related to the experiences of children.” “Life must be easy for their families! ……. like. “Who will help Iqaan's mother when she doesn't keep well?” led to further comparison and analysis of situations in the group.2.” He is expressing his ideas freely and confidently without any inhibition but seems rigid.” Madiha's question. which triggered the process of comparing different situations and suggesting hypotheses and inferences. “Yes they ‘can’ cook.” Teacher – “Men also have hands. He was adamant that a father should not sweep the floor or even cook. why can't they cook at home too?” – 3. The teacher exposed the children to different possibilities and alternatives. that only they can cook?” Students.1 Some comments from the teacher's observation record Sohail seems to have already made some moral judgments about gender roles.” Students – “They can cook but don’t”. An interesting observation expressed by Madiha that men cook in hotels so why can't they cook at home. girls are supposed to do this work!” – “Men go to office for work. – “Women can cook and not men.2. “Papa can also cook. 74 . Madiha makes linkages between her home and school experiences during discussion and states her opinions confidently and categorically.” – “I don’t.” She uses logical reasoning and compares and analyses different situations while giving explanations.” – “Some men cook in hotels.” Students – “If your husband knew cooking. He will need more exposure.” Students – “I help in cleaning.” – “Ma’am food is prepared with hands. he could have prepared dinner for the family” – “Men can learn to cook. One of his responses was “I don’t (help in cleaning). Who should be cooking dinner for the children? I used to be really very very tired.” Teacher – ‘Some of you wrote that your sisters help in cleaning’ “You can also help in cleaning.” Teacher – “I also go to office!” Students – “But you are a teacher. which helps others in her group. for which I will need to present him with different perspectives and possibilities so that he becomes more open.” Teacher – “I too worked in an office or some years. The views expressed by Iqaan which are not stereotypical like “I could have helped mother in the kitchen if I knew cooking” were opposed by Shaheer who said “Girls do this kind of work.2 Observations about one of the groups (Rose): Group 'Rose' has become more open and sensitive to ideas about gender and seems to have gained from the different perspectives of its members. because women know more about cooking. he can learn to cook.Teacher “But why can’t papa cook? How is food prepared?” (using hand gestures for preparing food) “What is there so special about women.

Students in a group inform each other about procedures. This is an extract from a government school teacher's diary of Class II. Is there any way by which a wheelchair can go inside the building. There is the true story of a young girl ‘Chuskit’. In group activities one child's doubt or inquiry can trigger off better learning opportunities for the entire group.Shaheer has now starting writing well using correct spellings and grammar. The following questions encourage every child to look around and become open to the world of individuals who have different abilities and potentials. He helped others in the group to complete their work. and is finally able to do so with the help of her sensitive and caring friends. “I divided the students in groups of four each. Researches on cooperative learning methods also showed that students learn better and feel more positive about their performance. • • • • Chuskit could reach school at last. how would you help her? Do you have ramps in your school on which a wheelchair can move? Do you know any child near your house who cannot go to school because of some difficulty? Would you like to help such a child? How can you help? Look at the buildings around your house. Teachers could make several more assessment questions from the students’ specific contexts. There were five groups. EVS Textbook for Class IV (NCERT. Do you think she may have faced some difficulty inside the school? What kind? If you were Chuskit’s friend. discuss findings and come to conclusions. Zohra still needs support in spellings. Students were divided into small groups. I gave a paper to each group on which I had drawn the following table:Touch me and tell me where should I be placed (mujhe chhookar batao main kahaa jaaun) Soft Hard Smooth Rough (Mulaayam) (Kathor) (Chiknee) (Khurdura) Soap Sand Cloth piece Paper Cotton Desk Stone Cream Oil Wool Polythene Soil 75 . They learn with each other and also learn to share responsibilities and resources. Group work also develops a feeling of cooperation rather than competition. 2007).3 Hard or Soft? – Experience Helps Children to Understand Classification This is an illustration of group work in which students were trying to classify materials. Grouping students during EVS activities also helped teachers to manage big/large classes while giving them more responsibilities. who cannot walk but dreams of going to school. 3. There are other examples of such sensitive issues in ‘Looking Around’.

An interaction with the world around us forms the basis of learning and EVS”. but when the soil is just lying around it is very soft. In the past also. Gauri had started analysing things. Classes in this context are usually not mutually exclusive.)” Yes. I am glad that Manpreet had also started participating in investigative activities. why can not a stone be called soft?” Kajal asked “Didi. However. when soil is in the form of hard clods it can't be pressed. Thus a student who places desk in the 'smooth' column could be as correct as the one who puts it under 'rough'. though three groups got stuck on cotton. However.Groups had to classify the things by touching and feeling them. I will organise many activities and give opportunities to raise doubts without expecting one single answer immediately. cotton can be pressed and desk cannot be pressed.”) Yes. Nisha said(“Didi oopar se chhoone main to mulayam hai lekin dabtaa nahin hai”) “If you touch on top it appears soft but it can't be pressed. We touch many different things but hardly discuss their characteristics. (“Haa didi ruee dab jaatee hai aur desk to dabtaa hi nahin. when it came to the 'desk' they were all puzzled. Didi my hand slips on it (Haan didi. (“haan. smooth and rough at the same time. For example a piece of cloth can be smooth as well as soft. “I cannot say that my students understood everything. and that it goes through various stages. She had tried to reason out why certain things labelled as 'soft' can still feel different on touching. She extended the activity on her own by asking whether our body is 'soft' or 'hard' as it feels like both depending on what we touch. because desk cannot be pressed it means that it is hard. They need to make fine observations.oil as smooth (chikna). Nisha had raised several such queries. which made others in the group think more. but on the upper surface it is smooth to touch. Probably schools don't even include these things in their curriculum. for example .1 Some comments from the teacher's observation record • Today Nisha's observation about the desk being soft triggered a discussion in the class about the conflict in categorisation. such experiences are critical in developing an enquiring mind. They definitely had many questions in their mind about classification.wool. desk can be hard. So is soil hard or soft?” Students did not get all the answers in this activity but these questions have given them a direction to think. • • 76 . for example – cloth and cotton. like Nisha asked “Didi. to handle objects and discuss with peers and the teacher. desk dabtaa nahin iska matlab yeh kathor hai lekin oopar se chhone main yeh chikna hai.” I then addressed the entire class and asked them – is a desk soft or hard? Ritu Teacher Sonia Teacher Saroj Teacher – – – – – – Soft Is cotton soft or hard? Soft Is there any difference between cotton and desk? Yes Didi.) Nisha – We can see that an understanding about classification is not always easy and straightforward. which is essential for EVS. All of them classified soap as smooth and sand as rough. Only some things can be classified in one group. 3. After much discussion and touching it repeatedly the fourth group suggested that it was 'soft' and it was accepted by the whole class. I have learnt that the process of learning is more important than the end product.3. ispar mera haath phisalta hai.

Amardeep. talking. the teacher. Media persons are seated on chairs with the name of the TV. However. when teachers start organising tasks or group work to assess and record such learning they also help enhance these skills. A. and also give us opportunities to assess their original ideas and thinking. Dancing. In fact. Sculpting etc. analysing. thinking.10. for the learners as well as for the teacher.1 Road Safety We discuss examples of three different ways in which the topic of ‘road safety’ was dealt with in government primary schools. Each group was asked to think of a situation that can lead to a road accident and to enact the same. Children have these capabilities but they are neither recognised nor assessed by schools. We also see that only when children are given a chance for creative expression — either through acting. Several modes of assessment are required to ensure that teachers and parents can observe children’s development through its multiple dimensions. 77 . “Will a desk also become soft if we leave it in a pond overnight?” Sarita and Kajal engaged well while working individually.1. Modes of Assessing Children’s Learning We have seen that learning in EVS must encompass a wide range of activities to help develop children’s understanding and skills. Acting. making a guess and hypothesising. arguing. a T. They dominated in their respective groups and I had to intervene repeatedly.• I realised that today's activity stimulated hypothesis and prediction as I had planned. 4. Section IV 4. We discuss here some modes used by teachers of EVS. Performing and Reporting for the Media Picture showing: A group is performing and others are sitting in a circle.V. keeping in mind the range of indicators given in section 2. discussing.1 Expression: Drawing. etc. questioning. Sama noted that soap becomes soft if it is left in water overnight. and which can facilitate further learning. 4. • These excerpts from primary teachers’ reflective writings vividly show the nature of learning possibilities in Environmental Studies — to develop our children's understanding about their world by using their skills of observing. Three pairs of students posed as ‘media persons’ from a newspaper. experimenting. they did not share space and resources with other group members. channel and a radio channel. drawing or creative writing — do they learn more effectively. divided her class of 28 children into four groups and three pairs. radio channel and the newspaper pasted on their respective desks.

The fielders ran to the main road to get the ball. developing good questions. sharing and working together.” Through this activity a teacher can assess students on the following EVS indicators: • Observation and Recording – Reporting. finding out from other people. He was hit by a speeding bus on a sharp turn. which was hit very hard by the batsman. • Analysis – Predicting. making pictures. Taking cues from her partner she was able to write the newspaper report on accidents using grammatically correct short sentences. The group learnt the importance of consensus in order to proceed with the activity. Through his facial expressions he is able to show different emotions like fear. critical thinking.Group I enacted a scene showing a child cycling very fast in order to reach school on time. facial expressions and verbal and non-verbal gestures in order to express and communicate. in this hurry to get the ball. making hypotheses and inferences. The road accidents were reported by different media in their respective styles. • Cooperation – Taking responsibility and initiative. Later a discussion took place around the following points: • Why and how do accidents happen? • How can they be avoided? • How come there are gaps and differences in the media reports? The learning outcomes include thinking and brainstorming on different possible situations that can lead to an accident. did not see the approaching two-wheeler and got injured in the process. joy. expressing opinions. Groups III and IV also enacted different scenes related to road accidents. narrating and drawing. This shows that he is clear regarding his role and the situation. 78 . A young man standing near the door of the bus was also thrown out as the driver applied the brakes. using a gadget to indicate a vehicle coming from the other direction. picture-reading. She also suggested a novel solution to avoid accidents on sharp turns. • Expression – Drawing. She posed good questions to the 'witnesses' to construct her news story. creative writing. and confusion quite well. The media were able to report the incidents in their different. talking. He has learnt to express well through body movements and delivers dialogues with ease and spontaneity. • Questioning – Expressing curiosity. Individual assessment reports of two children are given below: “Sonu took an active part in choosing and enacting the scene (of the road accident) and cooperated with group members. body movements. One child. • Discussion – Listening.” “Parineeta has improved tremendously in the last one month in terms of written expression. Decisions regarding different aspects like roles to be played were taken. The children used body movements. typical styles. The scared look on his face when the vehicle approached was quite natural. • Experimentation – Improvisation. Group II enacted a scene showing children playing cricket on the road.

If the vehicle goes without noticing the train. Readers to Reflect: • What indicators can be assessed through these questions taken from the old textbook (NCERT. if one drives while suffering from severe headache he can fall down somewhere. feels free to express his thoughts in the following manner: “If one drives in a half-sleepy state accidents will take place. If the brake fails an accident can happen. which will you choose for assessing children's learning? Why? 79 . Vehicles should go carefully. 5.. 2. When two people are talking on the road he will dash onto them. C. making logical connections. NCERT. 3. Writing creatively–even in the State Scholarship Exam (Class IV)! Q: Describe different situations when accidents can occur and suggest how to prevent them. green light. If one walks through the middle of the road without looking out for passing vehicles. traffic. While one train is moving and if another train comes accidents will take place.” Through such tasks the teacher can assess students on the following indicators: • Expression – Drawing. If the traffic rules are not followed. 2000)? • Out of the three options on ‘road safety’ given above (A-C).B. Accidents will happen if one drives at high speed out of fear of wild animals. If one vehicle tries to overtake another one accidents will take place. Answering questions from the textbook (Class III. if there are pot holes on the road. A government school student in Kerala. Follow the ___________ signals at the crossings. page 95) Fill in the blanks by selecting the right word from the ones given below: (zebra crossing. 4. etc. Accidents will also happen if one drives while watching beautiful birds. If one loses control over the vehicle accidents will happen. • Explanation – Reasoning. who has been encouraged to write creatively as part of his regular teaching and learning experience in the class. If the driver is careless accidents will happen. making hypotheses and inferences. accidents will take place. accidents) 1. While passing by curves on the road the vehicle should horn. When the gate at the level crossing is closed. If the bridge on which the train goes collapses. • Analysis – Predicting. _______ can take place. Vehicle move only when there is _______ ________ at the crossing. Accidents will not happen if one wears a helmet while riding on a scooter. People use________ ________ while crossing the road on foot. one should not cross the _______ _______. If the driver listens to people talking an accident will happen. 2000. If a person drives while looking at women then accidents will happen. creative writing. Also over-speeding will cause accidents. railway track.

under a stone. M. She enjoys playing outdoor games. and translated from Hindi): Q 1: A story is given below. She worked very hard to win the running race at the inter-school sports meet but missed it by a few seconds. he just explodes with anger.2 Worksheet – ‘Can you help them?’ The following are questions to make children think about their feelings and how they can help others who may be disturbed. he cannot tolerate anybody challenging lesson space his views. she was flying over a thick forest. Whether it is at a game or while talking to his friends. she was scared but later she started enjoying herself.3 Children's Drawings The following questions are from the Class V examination for children of Hoshangabad (conducted by Eklavya. They need your help. Do you have any suggestions for Sheela on what she could do? What do you do lesson to get rid of boredom? 4. “One day Sukhbati saw that there was something lying far. It is vacation time and Sheela has no one to play with. Sukhbati started falling down.1. give answers to the questions. The big balloon started flying and took Sukhbati with her. 80 . She picked up the balloon and started filling air in it.4.P. What would you tell Satish to do in order to control his anger? What do you do when you get angry? 2. Here are some children who are upset. not just for herself but also for her school. she jerked. After reading the story. taken from the Sangati programme run in Mumbai Municipal Schools by Avehi-Abacus. The balloon went over the forest and then across the sea. he often walks away angrily because they disagree with him. 2. An eagle then pecked the balloon and the balloon burst. When someone disagrees with what he says.” 1.1. Can you help Meena to overcome her disappointment? What do you do when you feel disappointed? 4. Most of her friends have gone to their villages or are visiting relatives. but just before an exam he gets terribly nervous. The balloon was flying over high mountains. What advice would you give Gulshan to help him? What do you do when you feel nervous? 3. What did Sukhbati see under the stone? Why was Sukhbati scared? What places did the balloon fly over? Make a drawing of Sukhbati hanging from a balloon. She went close to the stone and found a red and blue balloon lying there. 4. 1. Sheela is getting restless and bored at home. 3. At first. Gulshan is a sincere student. it got bigger and bigger. With that shock she opened her eyes. Then he cannot do well in his examination. She is feeling very disappointed. Sukhbati held the balloon very tightly. As she started blowing air into the balloon. and found herself in her bed. As soon as she hit the ground. Tell them what you do when you are in a similar situation. Meena is an excellent athlete. After mountains. The balloon came above a city. Satish is a short-tempered boy.

Ritu. and affords freedom for a personalised style of representation. one would desperately hold it with both hands. Such facial expressions show how children feel about the character in the story. Here are some interesting samples of children’s drawings: Children have used their imagination. Rabnoor has drawn the balloon and Sukhbati separately. Gagandeep. The written exercises (1. which shows that she has not been able to imagine how to draw Sukhbati hanging from the balloon. as children often hold while they take it from a ‘balloonwala’ (hawker). It is interesting to note that Ramrati. (This was another Class V examination question.Record of teacher's assessment of children's drawings: Analysis of children’s responses: Almost all children responded to this question. Amrita and Farida have drawn Sukhbati smiling while Pyarelal. She may not have realised that if one is hanging from a balloon. Children enjoy drawing so it is also a pleasurable way of asking them about their understanding of a narrative. However. It gives an opportunity to the child for personal interpretation and imagination. Rabnoor and Rasheedan have drawn scared expressions on her face. Looking at the drawings closely I observed that Amrita has shown Sukhbati holding a balloon in only one hand. Q2: Draw an elephant facing left and a mouse facing right. 81 . 2 and 3) are based on an understanding of the narrative. or even how they would feel if they were in place of that character. Kamaljeet. Ratan. the drawing exercise provides much more scope of expression for young children. and here are some samples of children’s drawings).

she seems to have been more fascinated and preoccupied with showing even minute details of the mouse like eyes. legs and tail for an elephant and the mouth. • • • 82 . Arti. a film or perhaps even a wedding. Their drawings also show a clear emphasis on facial expressions for each of the animals. indicating that they have understood the concept of ‘right-left’. trunk. eyes. I must also make them observe insects closely. It is interesting to note that Azra and Rahul have drawn more than four legs in the case of a mouse. It may be possible that she was not conscious about showing difference in sizes while she was busy drawing. Sana and Rocky have drawn basic physical features like the face. Hemant has drawn a decorated elephant which he might have seen in the Republic Day parade. It is possible that they may have usually seen a mouse darting across the room.Record of teacher's assessment of children's drawings: Most children had correctly drawn an elephant facing left and a mouse facing right. In fact. body. All drawings are different. • • All children have drawn a basic body shape of both animals. Development of perspective does not happen overnight it does takes time. there is a danger that it may be labelled as ‘wrong’. it is difficult to imagine mentally as to what angles one looks from–to see two or three legs of an elephant. Here are some other interesting observations. body. Sonu. However. Even for an adult. It does not mean that she did not know about comparative sizes. Azra has drawn six legs of the mouse. From a conventional adult point of view. she has drawn from her own perspective. However. Swati has drawn the elephant and mouse of roughly the same size. but Sania has tried to draw differently. Swati. without sufficient time to observe! Moreover children are still in the process of developing the concepts of ‘animal’ and ‘insect’. hair on tail etc. Most children have drawn the elephant bigger than a mouse. which shows that children are thinking and trying on their own. This shows the beginning of the development of their understanding of ‘perspective’. legs and tail for a mouse. Sania has drawn four legs of the elephant in a different way. showing that she has not fully differentiated a mouse from an insect and needs to be asked to observe a live mouse or its picture more closely. we must appreciate that instead of copying from a picture. Hema has drawn the four legs of elephants as drawn in the standard drawing of an elephant.

In another example of a drawing-based test question. Thus. ranking them with marks even for creative expression. Just as they learn to speak their first language. instead of publicly displaying all their drawings and thereby encouraging all of them to use their own imagination? 83 . but can express themselves much more freely and deeply through drawings. Our lack of imagination often comes in the way of analysing children’s drawings. if we reward unoriginal responses. their body shapes and even sizes. where they have drawn in detail its body. one drawing also shows people sitting in an aeroplane and a pilot flying with a steering wheel in hand. children were asked to say how an aeroplane is different from a bird. Indeed. Moreover. The aeroplane was chosen because the school was located near an airport and children often also saw aeroplanes flying past their houses. diverse thinking and expression? Why do we have ‘drawing competitions’ for young children. mountain. etc. young children draw as a natural part of their development. in a routine style. Every drawing is different and distinct. river houses. It is our own inability to understand children’s drawings and creative expression that makes us unable to make sense of them.This drawing exercise may apparently seem to assess only their understanding of ‘right and left’. and to draw these. thinking and personal feelings. we want to impose conformity. fan and even a ladder. An analysis of children’s drawings reveals their keen observation (and imagination) about an aeroplane. which they feel free to express.. wheels. These help teachers in assessing children’s concepts. We. We direct children to draw a tree. then where is the space for their imagination. want children to reproduce in a standardised manner. which can be developed further in the classroom. as an assessment exercise like this becomes an important guide for further learning. but it also gives us many insights into children’s thinking about animals. ideas. Drawing is thus not only an enjoyable and expressive activity for children but a very effective learning opportunity for teachers. Instead of motivating children to see things and events from their own perspective. as adults. wings. Children in primary classes are still learning to read and write. flowers. lights windows.

1. showing construction activities. You can also answer the questions to compare how buildings were made then.2 Picture Reading Tasks Many kinds of questions can be framed on pictures to give children the opportunity to express their power of observation. Do you find people who are not directly performing any building tasks? Who may they be? What may they be thinking of? 84 . Task 1. Is it right to say that this painting shows activities of earlier times? What are the things that are common today but are not found in this picture. Reading a Mughal Miniature Task: You can study this painting carefully to understand many things about how buildings were made in earlier times. For example. can help children study them carefully and learn a lot about construction building – then and now. questions based on these famous Mughal miniature paintings.4. with how they are made today. making connections and interpretations. 2. Can you roughly count the number of people involved in the work shown here? What are the activities mainly done by men and what activities are women mainly employed in? Are there tasks that are being done by both men and women? Are children also employed in construction work? 3.

What are the ways in which materials are transported to the construction site? How is material unloaded? How is water supplied to the construction site? 6. There is also a possibility that the child might go out and make an observations at any construction site and then use it for her answer. Task 2 Learning from a Traffic Scene The following is a picture of a traffic scene taken from the Math-Magic textbook for Class III (NCERT. worried. Describe the various tools and things used to perform the tasks the people are engaged in. the child is using explanation. transportation to its unloading. Have clothes worn by people changed entirely between then and now? Are there some similarities to clothes people wear today? 8. and comparison of construction work in different times — the Mughal period with the present time. 2. 2006). Secondly. This contrast sensitises the child to see the role of gender in the division of labour during that time and also at present. tired. the child has been given the space for carrying out minute observations to see the entire process of construction starting from the raw material. In the first instance. In Question 6. lazy. In this manner. with reasoning and logical connections. 7. healthy. The teacher can thus assess in how much detail the child has been able to observe. 85 . sincere. 8). It is used for an exercise on data handling. or excited? 7. the picture reading requires making careful and detailed observation of the picture. In Question 2 the child has to make a comparison between the work done by women and men in the picture. 1. 3. busy. the question would allow the child to use her observation of the surroundings and compare it with the picture. bored. What would you say about the people shown here? Are they happy. which involve many people in different roles. The child here is made to analyse and predict what happens around one economic activity. What is the building that is being made? Who would it belong to? Let us see how various EVS Indicators can be assessed through these questions. In the picture reading exercise the child is not just making observations but is also drawing comparisons (See question nos. 5.4.

Question 5 and 8 provide the child a chance to express herself through drawing and writing. Usually. Ask your friends how they come to school or go to their relatives' homes. the teacher can assess the child on her ability to contrast and compare as to how many vehicles have bells and horns. It is important to understand that the concept of ‘part-whole’ relationship is understood only if the pictures are related to the children's context. the teacher can assess the children on their ability to identify vehicles by relating them with what they see in their surroundings. In Question 1. If you have to go for a picnic with your friends where will you go? Which vehicle will you use for this? Tell us who all will you take along? Can you name the vehicles you might see on your way? Make a drawing to show the activities you will do there. Similarly. Question 3 and 4 assess a child's ability to compare. Picture reading also helps bring out children's interpretation of a real object. Teachers can also think of some more questions to make this picture-reading activity more interesting. in exams. 4. and fill this table: Vehicles used for Going to the Going to relatives' market home Friend’s Name Going to school 7. 5.The same picture can also be used for EVS. Question 6 also assesses the child's ability to get information from others. while discussing different ways of travelling. Can you identify the different vehicles shown here by hearing the sounds they make? Can you also make the sounds of some of these vehicles? How many of these vehicles have bells and how many have horns? Which among all these make loud noises and how many do not make any noise? Can you think of ways of travelling other than given in the picture? How do you travel when you go to meet your relatives? Write a brief account of any recent visit to your relatives' home. The main objective of a labelling exercise is to make children understand how a system is made up of different parts and sub-systems. 3.3 Labelling Picture-reading questions can also be used as labelling exercises. This can be done through the following questions: 1. 6. 4. Not only will children come up with different interpretations but will also be able to relate it with their life experiences and share it with their friends. the pictures given are so complex that the child can hardly relate with the picture. 2. In Question 2. 86 . Which among these vehicles produce smoke? 8. In the same question the children can be made to check through their voice modulation if they can make the sounds of these vehicles (expression).

digestive system etc. and rectum? Can you point to where they are in your body? 87 .2 The body systems Let us now look at another example of labelling which is commonly used in almost all primary science classes. ‘water cycle’ is not a linear process but. For a teacher it is a ‘water cycle’ where the child has to label its various processes. How many of us remember the different parts of our respiratory system along with their functions? Do you remember reading about the duodenum. has many dimensions which involve the understanding of various other concepts like evaporation. through this child’s response.4.3. if she understood the concept? As discussed above in Section III. condensation etc.1 ‘Water cycle’ : The child has been asked to label this diagram.3. Most of us would have been taught about various biological systems in primary school. oesophagus. rather. Do you think this diagram is an appropriate tool to assess the child’s conceptual understanding about the water cycle? 4. Can you guess. for example – the respiratory system.

the teacher has assessed the children’s learning. The spellings are correct. their nature and method of asking. in the second picture though the child wrote incorrect spellings “chaka” and “hedil” for ‘handle’ it has been marked as correct.Most of us would draw a blank! Then. but the teacher has marked some of the answers as incorrect. By giving enough time we can increase the quality and richness of the answers produced by children as is clearly evident in the classroom observations in Section III. Such questions require more time to answer as compared to the questions that require simple retrieval from memory. and decide as to what he/she might do in the future to help them bridge the gaps in their thinking. even though she may be pronouncing or writing it differently. However.3. Let us look at the first response. In this activity of labelling a bicycle. gets completely lost this way. Responses based on children’s experience helps the teacher to understand their level of thinking.3 Labelling the picture of a bicycle Then what kind of pictures could we use for labelling? The following is an interesting example. because the child knows the parts correctly. Open and person centered questions are more suitable for this. The questions. classification and making associations. children are forced to memorise all kinds of scientific terms for such activities. why expect children to label such diagrams? Labelling should not mean reproducing memorised information. in fact. 88 . 4. The primary objective to promote skills of observation. should allow children to give explanations or predictions based on their ideas or experiences.

She told us that the vegetables come from Okhla and Kotla markets.1 A Visit to the Mandi This relates to the same group of students who visited the stable (section 3. When we asked questions. etc Visits are meant not only for merely out and having fun but can offer several opportunities for teachers to assess what children are learning all along — before going out. In fact. She has been selling vegetables for the last 20 years. record. the shopkeeper was laughing. For instance. Students showed a substantial growth in their learning. Count the number of trollies/carts (thelas) Which fruits are sold by counting their number? Which fruits are sold by weighing? The presentation made by a group after the second visit: “We spoke to a greengrocer aunty.4. Survey. 4. In their next visit to the local market of fruits and vegetables the teacher assessed if students had made progress on the questions they developed and reports they presented.Communication is an important aim of EVS and involves various conventions of representation besides writing. Grapes were hung in the shop.4 Field Visit. tables. The other two groups wrote a report and made an oral presentation. discuss and present information in ‘real’ and meaningful contexts. Lemon and pineapples were kept on one side. Graphs. He did not answer all our questions. picture-based questions.” Along with this report the group had made an elaborate drawing of the market. 4. All the vegetables are sold after weighing. Presentation. which help in organising information and conveying it efficiently. There was a song being played in the shop. could be used to suit particular kinds of information and for assessing children’s ability to communicate through different modes. and the visit not only achieves motivation to learn but also opportunities to collect. A sample of one child's report (Translated from Hindi): “In the shop papaya was kept above apples. much more learning happens this way.” 89 . Three groups presented through drawings and narrated what they had shown in those drawings. rather than listing answers in the class. Young children learn much more through observing and finding out for themselves — even if it means doing a quick survey of the neighbouring houses or farms to see and record what domestic animal is fed what food. etc. He brings fruits from Okhla market. The Mandi opens from 10 in the morning to 10 in the night.1). during the visit and also after returning. He has been working here for the last 12 years. narratives. one group made the following questions to ask the shopkeepers and hawkers: What is your name? For how many years have you been working here? From what time to what time do you work? Who grows these fruits? Where do you get these vegetables from? Which vegetable is sold the most? Which fruit is sold the most? Count the number of shops.

EVS Textbook for Class IV.2 Questions to a vegetable seller (Worksheet from ‘Looking Around’. Discussion – Listening to fruit sellers. Questioning – Students were curious to know more about the mandi (market). narrating and drawing. 2007) Such worksheets encourage students to talk to different people in the community and find out about the life of those people and their work. NCERT. Ask the following questions and make a brief report in the notebook. 4. talking. They framed questions keeping.The teacher assessed students on the following indicators: • • • • • Observation and recording – Reporting.4. talking to them and finding out answers to the questions framed by them. finding out from other people 90 . o What is his or her name? o How many people are there in his her home? How many children are there at home? o What are the names of the children? How old are they? o Who among the family members help in selling vegetables? o Who stay with the vegetable cart sit in the shop? o What vegetables do they sell? o What time do they start work? o For how many hours in a day do they work? o Ask them about any three vegetables that they sell? Vegetable 1 Vegetable 2 Vegetable 3 Name of the vegetable The price of the vegetable Where does it come from? What quantity of the vegetable do they buy at one time? In which month do you usually get this vegetable? The teacher can assess students on the following indicators: • • Observation and recording – Reporting Discussion – Listening. comparing the sizes of different fruits. Cooperation – Students worked collectively and shared responsibilities. • Talk to a vegetable-seller in your area. Classification – Comparing and contrasting arrangement of fruits and vegetables from one shop to another.

which was also visited by parents and other members of the community. Whenever I visited homes I took my other students with me. The teacher can then assess the quality of the information collected on the artifacts. with a lot of interest. wooden slippers. telegraph. Further. They have visited workshops. To my own astonishment a huge collection was made. We note the different aspects of children’s learning that can be assessed in this project. a government primary teacher of Class IV (Paithinipparamba. IV children are living examples of this. and whether the children have gone beyond their own houses. She notes their amazing effort in setting up the Antique Exhibition in the village. ponds etc. but their home environment as well.5. houses. and what learning it offered to the teacher herself. where children most enthusiastically responded to the innovative projects and activities in and out of school. Different implements and equipment were being collected even three months before we held the exhibition. learn from other people etc. The criteria used for making different sections in a stall could be noted. umbrellas with long handles. An equal number of modern things were also collected. During the exhibition. how each child collects the information about each artifact. The collections included things such as gramophone. I have visited the homes of 29 children in this process. express her opinions. talk to them. “In my opinion children like the new approach (of teaching EVS) most.” In such a project the teacher can assess children on their ability to take initiative and responsibility to collect the material. I had conducted an ‘Exhibition of Antique Things’ as part of Environment Studies. the assessment can be done on the basis of how each group classified and grouped the artifacts and also on how each group worked upon the tasks like decorating and setting up the stall together. as part of their field trip. antique jars. The teacher can also note how each group approaches the family/house for the above purpose. She refers to the curriculum renewal in Kerala. My Std. 70 different antique things were collected from 150 houses spreading over various villages. 4. Children also helped me with this for four days. Melmuri. through which I was able to understand not only my children. Kerala). and most importantly.1 Example One – Exhibition of Antique Things This is from a report (translated from Malayalam) written by Rajani. fields. Next the teacher assesses the 91 . During the past four years they have visited 15 geographical areas for observing and collecting data. describing the EVS projects she conducted.5 Projects 4. may be observed.• • • • Explanation – Making logical connections Classification – Contrasting and comparing Questioning – Expressing curiosity Concern for Justice and Equality – Sensitivity towards the disadvantaged and differently abled. It is important to understand that ‘decoration’ does not mean use of fancy material but rather a display of the items in a meaningful manner. a tele-printer and various old types of measuring equipment. her ability to listen to the informants.

presentation and organisation of their project book.5. I focused on the number of ideas.3 Making Friends with a Tree Select any one tree growing near your home or school. and expression. name and date. Observe the tree every day for at least a week. novelty of ideas. Fill in the worksheet and file it in your folder. how they interact with them and explain (share information) about their collection. They also had to write whatever they knew or observed about the tree. however I did focus on the sentences and spellings to understand the growth in their written expression. 4. It should be a tree that is in flower or is bearing fruit. Observing them discussing things related to the leaf or the date on which they pasted it also helped me understand the extent of their learning.) Which birds nest in it? What insects do you find on it? What animals are seen on or around it? How tall is the tree? What does the shadow of the tree look like? (Draw it here. I then also gave feedback on how to logically organise a presentation and told them the importance of coherent and clear articulation.” 4. look after yourself too! • • • • • • • • • • • Name of the tree Draw the shape of its leaf (or stick a leaf. paste them and write the place.) What does the fruit look like? (Draw the fruit. plant and the flower.) Who eats the fruit? When is the flowering season? Does the tree lose its leaves? – If so. The activity was to collect different flowers and leaves.) Is it easy to climb? Have you ever tried to climb it? 92 . When parents are invited to the exhibition. It was a group activity since they had to extend the project and take care of it. for individual children as well as for groups. We first had a long discussion on picking only fallen flowers and leaves. Since they are in Class II. I gave them assessment scores on collaborative effort. as part of their EVS project work. division of labour. Take care not to damage the tree or any of the creatures that live in or around it. When the groups made their oral presentations.2 Leaf and Flower House Project This piece (translated from Hindi) is from the diary of a government primary teacher in Delhi. all the members had to speak. A list of questions is given below to help you to observe more closely.students on their ability to discuss about their collection. which month? Which birds visit the tree? (Name or draw them.) What kind of flower does it have? (Draw or stick a flower. If you climb the tree. like a peepal or jamun tree.” We had made these books using old magazines and paper. She describes her process of assessment. The assessment in this activity was more complicated. Sakshi knew the names of all the trees and flowers so it was a good learning opportunity for me and the other students. “I had begun the project by making two books with the students . I did not mark them on syntax at all.5. also from outside the school.“Leaf House of Our Class” and “Flower House of Our Class. leaf. the teacher assesses how they introduce themselves (their group work) to the visitors. The project was an on-going activity in which they kept adding leaves or flowers. I assessed them on the basis of things that they had written about the flowers and trees.

How do I assess my project? 4. The tasks can cut across subjects and include activities related to language and 93 .6.once as they appear when viewed from the side and again as they appear when viewed from the top. Can you identify them and make the right matches? Two pictures given here show the shadow that forms around the same tree. The evaluation is carried out after the project is completed and each learner has presented his/her findings to the other children or has put up an exhibition or display. would you call it your friend? What does your tree friend do for you? What can you do for your tree friend? (This is taken from an Avehi-Abacus Assessment Worksheet used in Mumbai municipal schools) 4. Look at each leaf carefully. One picture shows the tree and its shadow in the morning and the other shows the tree and its shadow in the afternoon. • • Exams need not be a time when one sits stiffly scratching one’s head for memorised nuggets of information. Why have I chosen this topic? 3. Some pictures have been drawn twice . Please identify which is the morning picture and which is the afternoon picture. Think a little and try drawing the sun in the right position in both the pictures.6 Experiments and Activities 4. houses.• Now that you know so much about the tree.4 Self Assessment of Project Work In some schools projects are assessed by the students themselves and the teacher. What skills do I need to improve? 6. How do I want to work on it? 5.5. roads. Some questions are given to help each student assess her own work: 1. Now go out and see what lies around the school — trees. It is essential to give the learners an opportunity to show how actively and successfully they can tackle new learning tasks. hand pump and so on.even in the exam hall! Consider asking children to do something like this while they attempt their exam: • Go out and collect some leaves. Make sure you have shown such things in your picture and labelled them as well. Three columns are given below for you. What do I want to learn in this project? 4. How long did the project take? 2. More such activity tasks can be designed by teachers.1 Learning all the time . Write the name of the leaf in the column it should belong to: Leaves with pointed tips Leaves with rounded tops Leaves with zig-zag edges • Make a picture of your school.

2006.mathematics. NCERT. p. ???) Go to the kitchen and observe something being cooked. For instance.4 Measurement (Math-Magic Class III.3 Observation and Sequencing of Events (EVS Class III.6. Don’t forget to write the name of the item being cooked. 4. 2006 p.2 Tangrams (Math-Magic Class III.6. 67-68.6. 2006.) 4. NCERT. p. 54) 94 . these are some examples from the NCERT Maths Class III textbook which offer activities for EVS learning. 4. NCERT. Look at the notebook of your classmates and discuss in a group. What was done to cook it? Write the sequence.

on the basis of their experiences. “When we are a little far from the river such pebbles are not found. They have not been planted by anyone. The purpose of Questions such as 2 and 3 is not to arrive at a single correct answer but to give space to children to think and. 2. Shanti’s grandfather told her that as a small child he used to see many more birds like the sparrow and the myna than are seen today. and speculate about relationships and patterns. 1. Can you make two possible guesses as to why their number is less today? 1. were trying to dissolve mustard oil in water. This is a part of their conversation: 95 . What were those made of? 4.5 When your grandparents were children (EVS Class III. students of Class V. Fatima said “We can collect some from the river side. 63) (i) Ask some elderly people if there were they can name plants which they had seen when they were children but are not seen these days. This challenges them to make logical connections between evidence and the hypotheses they propose. ask them if there are any plants seen these days. Questions like 3 and 4 help children to evolve preliminary understanding of some concepts without bombarding them with concepts which are not age appropriate. Can you also think of a place where plants are growing without being planted? Why do you feel that they have not been planted by anyone? How do you think the seeds of the berry plant could have reached that place? Think of two possibilities. 2006 p. Also. to compare and describe situations. but which were not seen earlier. make and strengthen new linkages and images in their minds.6. These responses will also help teachers in understanding the thinking process of children and the way they construct their knowledge. round and smooth pebbles to play ‘gitte’ (a game played with pebbles) with.” Can you think of the reason why such round smooth pebbles get formed near the river side? Q3. Q2.” When they reached the river side Irfan observed. A small berry plant was also amongst them.7 Making Good Guesses and Hypotheses The questions given below will help children look at similarities and differences. Q4 Bilal and Aditya. I have seen many good smooth pebbles there. The responses of children should be respected to encourage them to express themselves and become conscious thinkers. NCERT. Mamta feels that the grass and small plants growing near her school wall are growing on their own. Fatima and Irfan wanted small. In Question 1 children will have to think of two plausible explanations for the given situation.4. 2. Q1. (ii) Ask elderly people what kinds of utensils were used earlier.

It is the second step in making hypothesis. (4). In (3). we do not see water droplets. • Connecting the phenomena with a relevant idea from previous experience. Children do not naturally formulate hypotheses. As teachers. 1998) show that children have started making a hypothesis: • Children learn to observe and identify a feature of an event or phenomena which is relevant to giving an explanation. Look Aditya. For instance. look. . It is the first step in formulating/ making hypothesis.8 Using and Creating ‘Real’ Texts. In (1) and (2) children are observing and are trying to give an explanation. What will happen if we take a few drops of oil and a few drops of water. individually as well as in groups. But there is a gradual progression. . how do we come to know that children can make good guesses or hypothesis? The following indicators (Harlen and Elstgeest. However.(3) They put a few drops of oil in a glass of hot water and stir.(2) What will happen if we add mustard oil in hot water? . .(5) ven the sugar grains get dissolved in water on stirring. they could also make their own newspapers or bulletin sheets. When milkman puts water in milk. What is important here is the fact that what they are asked to create is not just an assessment task or ‘assignment’ but is actually used in a real context – in the classroom. (5) and (6) children were raising questions and were trying to investigate. teachers often use newspapers to make children look for different types of information and data. and share them with the rest of the school.(1) Bilal. but still oil does not get dissolved in water. oil did not dissolve in water. They could look regularly at the temperature chart to see how the forecast and the actual figures correlate with their own experience of the day being ‘hot’ or ‘cool’ etc. • Providing a testable explanation and testing it. can you see yellow droplets of oil on the surface of water? Bilal observed carefully. children in some cities have actively participated in 96 . water spreads more than oil. he was not able to notice small droplets of oil on the water surface. Oil still did not dissolve in water. Similarly.(7) In (1) the child had observed a slight change in colour of water. They were trying to build connections (drawing similarities (5 and 6) and differences (7)) in different situations. Teachers can thus keep track of how children’s ability to read or use data from other sources develops. There is no expectation at this stage for them to fully understand the concept of ‘temperature’.(4) Bilal put two drops of water and two drops of oil on the lid of his tiffin box. which happens later in upper primary school. Exercises and assessment tasks that encourage children to read and create ‘real’ texts lend tremendous motivation to the effort. the school or even the community. For instance. • Recognising that there can be more than one possible explanation of an event.Bilal : Aditya : Bilal Bilal : : Bilal : Aditya : Bilal : Bilal : Aditya : Bilal Look water has become yellow in colour and oil is dissolved in water . 4.(6) But tea-leaves do not get dissolved in water . Yes. In (2) the other child had helped his friend in focusing his observation. They were applying knowledge gained in one situation to help understand a problem in the other. .

such as. made drawings for it. each word alphabetically arranged.campaigns against polluting firecrackers. whereas children at this age are normally sweating over spellings and are bored with repetitive exercises on the alphabets. the observatory. including a proud mention of the author’s ‘forthcoming’ book. in what language the observatory writes or how would a telephonic message from the State office convey the urgency of the situation 97 .8. 4. It is clear that the learning that has happened from this real task is so much more intensive and richer than what normally takes place in rigid test questions or irrelevant homework exercises. a government office. The 8½ year-old had been encouraged by her teacher to carefully observe ‘real’ books as a group activity.8. etc. It is important to note that this evaluation activity also helps children to learn about the linguistic styles used by different organisations. historical records. She even painstakingly made an ‘index’ at the end. and also created her own ISBN code.2 Evaluation Activity: Prepare a Press Report on the Gujarat Earthquake The following example is an innovative examination ‘activity’ from Kerala. which she had done on her own initiative. or to express their concern about the right to education. and wrote two poems.1 Creating ‘My Own Book’ A sample of the details a child can obseve and creatively produce in her own book is shown here. which asked children to make a press report on the Gujarat earthquake after reading different reports received from varied sources. about child labour etc. 4. Later she made a book as a gift for a relative. This exam question helps them learn how a fax is written. a note about the author.

• Samples of each child’s Self-assessment sheets on which children have made their own questions and evaluated their answers.News received from different sources about the earthquake of Gujarat is given to you. With the help of children. samples of creative writing.ups of out-of-classroom activities. paper cutting and Origami. the collection in the portfolio increased. • Diary paragraphs written by children. such as • Written material – worksheets. she pasted newspapers on the walls and also made pockets on it. • Letters to the child from other children and even by the teacher. • Art work like paper folding. with things. communicating their feelings and understandings in a non-threatening way.9 Portfolios A teacher of Class IV in a state funded school maintained EVS portfolios for all thirty–two children in her class. reports/write. and slipped her work in the pocket which became her portfolio.10 Question and Answer Formats In classroom discussion children must get adequate opportunity to communicate their thinking orally while in paper-pencil formats they do so by writing. etc. Thus. • Greeting cards prepared by children during the thematic plan on festivals. Fax message from government offices 2. 98 . the questions should be such that they help children to become aware of their own reasoning and to use evidence more consciously. she made innovative use of the walls of her classroom. As the school year progressed. stadium. like a visit to the nearby bank. Note from a press release on the earthquake 3. textiles. • Various drawings – plants. It is through answering thought provoking questions that children get space to express their opinions and give arguments. Every child chose a pocket and wrote her name on it. At the end of every term the teacher looks at each child’s portfolio to assess her progress and gives specific and useful feedback to parents. also short formats in which they say what problems they still face. • Record of story books read by the child titled ‘Books which I have read’. festivals……. Such a collection shows to teachers and parents what the child has accomplished and is an evidence of the actual work done rather than just the test scores. animals. Prepare a press report on the basis of the following materials provided: 1. and we analyse some examples here to see how these do not assess a child's understanding of a particular concept. Portfolios should not contain only the best work but all kinds of work. progress and growth. • Collection of leaves. Telephonic message from Gujarat 4. favourite flower. Urgent message from the weather observatory 4. etc. Such a collection of the child’s work provides insights to parents about their own child and helps them discuss with the teacher the child’s achievement. Even though she had no budget and no almirah for this. Information on the history of old earthquakes 5. to show the growth and progress of the child over the entire school year. 4. We are all familiar with what we have been calling ‘traditional’ questions. tests.

4.10. The teacher has made these questions to assess the concept of ‘living’ and ‘non-living’.‘living’ and ‘non-living’ This is from a term paper for EVS Class III of a Municipal Corporation school. Q: Write any two characteristics of living beings. STUDENT-I STUDENT-II 99 . Q: Name any five non-living things.1 Traditional questions on abstract concepts .

100 .10. non-living’ These are two examples from the answer scripts of the same students. “Paeda Saans Leta Hai. But one can see how the nature of these questions is different.These responses of two children show that they have tried to articulate what they understand about the abstract concepts. The teacher focuses on the spellings of the words rather than their ideas. Question number-1 asks them to collate from their experience. these questions are open-ended and person-centered as the child has been asked to draw from her own experience. He writes (for question no-3). Student-I Student-II Nazim's worksheet shows that he can articulate in his own words and think why the things he observed differ from each other. Koi machine. the answers are not in a language natural to children: “Phoola Saans Leta Hai”.” He also writes that trees are different from man-made things. but have been marked incorrect. “Koi Pathhar Ki. Do you think such questions allow students to use their logical thinking skills and investigation? 4. koi kudrat ki. Also. even if they don't walk.” Can you see how the nature of questions influenced their responses? These unproductive questions compel them to recall some pre-determined answers.2 Open ended questions to see their understanding of ‘living. because they grow like human bodies.

Some of these responses are very interesting and help us learn a lot about the way children think. 4. Hair. One student responded this way. Such observations show that children are giving meaning to their experience of the word ‘grow’ – and that the child might not have seen a ' baby crow' or 'baby fish'. For instance. ‘moon’ ‘cycle’ and ‘hair’ grow. non-living’ differed. Crow.” In the above example student-2 writes. The children of Class V were asked the following questions in a paper-pencil test: Q. In Question 8 and 9 assesses her ability to classify and offer explanations. Toy. Tree. When the format or language of a question actually gives children a chance to think and express themselves. contrasting between two observed things and their comparison. 101 . A student asked whether wood was to be categorised as something which has life. Indeed. Cycle. while the sun or the cycle can be seen to ‘move ahead’ which in Hindi is called ‘(aage) badhna’. most children seemed to believe that a tree grows but it does not breathe. the nature of the question on the same concept of ‘living. Fish. it provokes students to reflect on their own thinking. Their understanding of the world is based on their perceptions and observations it is for us to draw that out through how we ask our questions. they respond naturally. This is a list of some of things -Television. Instead of answering.” This requires categorising. how many of you can remember having observed a fish or a crow grow? The example also shows how the children derive their understanding on the basis of the observations they make. in Question 4. On the question of ‘breathing’. In fact.3 Example 3 In a JNU study of Delhi Corporation Schools. 5. “No” for the second question and gives the following reasons “koi kudrat.10. most children wrote that a fish and a crow ‘breathe’ but they did not write these two in the category of things that grow. Out of these write things that: Grow _______ Breathe _______ The responses show that children had carefully reflected upon the questions before writing the answers. Sun. the teacher posed this question to the whole class. Therefore their reasoning as well as classification was based on this. warna nahin hoti. Some children had also written that ‘sun’. It gets reflected in their answers like “sun. many children expressed in their writing that trees are ‘less alive’ than animals. according to what they believe and what they experience.It is evident here that when a question is framed differently. cycle and hair” as things that grow and by considering that trees are less active than animals. “Jab lakadi paed main hoti hai to usmein jaan hoti hai. koi machine ki. It is obvious that ‘to grow’ or ‘badhna’ for them holds many different connotations and meanings – the moon of course ‘grows’ in size. moon. 6 and 7 the child is being assessed on her skills of observations and reporting. Similarly. koi patthar.

Example 4 Yum-yum rice (Math-Class III. If we ignore their intuitive ideas or alternative conceptions. NCERT. children may hold on to them without any change. they come up with their intuitive ideas or alternative frameworks. 2006 p. 117) Example 5 Creative Expression (EVS Textbook Class III) (i) Ask you friends when and how they decorate? (ii) What would happen if birds could not fly but only walk on their feet? (iii) If you could fly like a bird where would you like to go? What else would you do? When students freely express themselves in writing. especially as tools to learn about children’s ideas. Some of these responses will show that they need the teacher’s help for conceptual clarity. repeating the ‘right’ answers by rote but still believing in their own versions. The value of open questions is normally not appreciated by teachers. 102 .

and their feedback is not limited to one page. wherever she may be located.Section V 5. ‘Progress Card’. and which do not allow them to understand things at that stage. Records of Students’ Progress Assessment is not meant to compare and rank children against each other or against some fixed norms. jealousies and competition. 103 . and it is expected that Language and Mathematics will incorporate themes for the development of concepts and skills in areas broadly related to EVS.1 What Learning ‘Outcomes’ for All Children? How can Environmental Studies help all our children. However. For instance. how should their learning be recorded and reported? 5. No syllabus has been given for EVS in Classes I-II. All of them present a qualitative feedback in the form of comments and grades on specific indicators. or promote unfair means to win the race and so on. to look specifically at the shapes of leaves. Similarly. ‘Development Profile’ etc. It is this self-growth and development that needs to be assessed and reported. many questions which help in their development. For instance. but which are not all deep. the purpose is not to collect random similarities or differences. unfortunately. The NCERT syllabus for Classes III-V does not spell out any ‘outcomes’ for each theme. to shape an enabling learning environment for each child. These are basic to the learning process in EVS and yet. most classrooms are not designed to ensure this. 5. to track her progress and give feedback to ensure further improvement. schools must ensure that suggested activities or discussions will be conducted because only then can it be ensured that learning will happen. development and struggles. Some of them use words such as ‘Report Card’. the edges. etc. discuss and investigate them. those for whom the main purpose in life is going to school. young children ask many. However. However. to answer. 2 Reporting the Child’s Progress: Some Report Cards We looked at the progress cards/reports developed by some well known schools of Delhi and the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan. Thus specific purposes will need to be spelt out when activities are designed. as well as those who aspire for a school that can support life. Assessments must not foster negativity. It is necessary to assume and accept that each child can grow and develop to her full potential if learning opportunities are made available. and even all those who still cannot do so. Let us look at them individually to find out if they communicate adequately to the parents about their child’s learning. the patterns of lines in it. by planned activities and exercises to get them to phrase their questions. but to seek information from the object to extend children’s ideas and understanding. EVS classrooms will need to provide opportunities to children to be able to progressively ask higher order questions that require different levels of reasoning and investigation. at several places the syllabus activities indicate that children need to conduct specific observations. Positive assessment should help teachers see how well each child is able to perform. all those who struggle to go to school. Assessment should be such that it motivates every child to give her the belief that she can do better. to know more about them. How then can we expect all children to learn? Finally. with meaning and dignity? It is up to the teachers and makers of the syllabus and textbooks.

Body part Function Mouth …………… Nose …………….Unit Test. 3) Underline the correct word The sun rises in the east/west. locating i) The map helps in…………………………….Assignment. 104 .a place. Teachers do not asses only by giving tests. There are nine questions from the first term Unit Test of Class III.. ii) On heating.Observation (Obs) 2. there are 5 competencies given in the table. Readers to Reflect Can you match the following questions with the 5 competencies given in the table above? Which question assesses what competency? Q.5.E. Q. iii) G …………….1 Example 1: What do These Competencies Mean? School 1 Subject Competencies UT EVS 1. Oral GRADES EVS Class III Report Card Term I ASN PRO UT Term II ASN PRO UT Term III ASN PRO SEE Final Assessment UT.Project S. ASN. Q. Idenification (Id) 3. 6) Mark the correct statement and cross (x) out the wrong ones.Session Ending Examination As seen. 1) Write a function for each of these body parts. Let us look at one question paper used to assess the above specified competencies and see if we can understand the basis for asking such questions. 4) Fill in the blanks with the words given in the box Vapours.E.2. PRO. Q. 5) What are the three forms of water? i) S ………………… ii) L ……………….Discovering Facts By Oneself (Df) 4. they asses all the competencies separately by giving assignments and projects. 2) Draw a garden and name three things that you see in a garden.Group Activity/ Application (Ga) 5. water changes into ……………………...

2 .Discovering Facts. These questions do not give any opportunity to the child to think. really assesses the child’s understanding? Can you think of a skill which develops or can be assessed by a tick on this statement – ‘we should have a dustbin with a lid’? What are the skills involved in writing the ‘five uses of plants’? Surely. even with the first letter of the word given as hints. but is listed as that! We need to reflect and ask ourselves what we mean by assessment. Q 8. Some other schools are attempting more elaborate formats with personalized feedback to parents.i) We should have a dustbin with a lid.II Milind’s ‘Report Card’ EVS/SCIENCE Semester – I G G VG VG VG VG VG VG VG VG VG VG VG Observation Skills Comprehension/Understanding Application to real life situations General Awareness Recall/Retention Ability to Correlate Ability to Analyse Class Discussion Collection Skills Project Work Group Activity Participation Effort Semester. but not necessarily making more detailed assessment of children’s learning. What is your view? Does the child need to ‘observe’ to write the functions of body parts? Does writing that “the sun rises in the east” reflect any ‘understanding’? Does giving the ‘three forms of water’. 9. Q 3-5 Identification/understanding. (The school says: Q 1. observe. 8.Observation.2. Similarly how can ‘Group Activity’ be put along with ‘Application’? Drawing any five sources of water is neither an application based activity nor a group activity. 7. Write any five uses of plants. 9 – Group Activity/Application) Now check your guesses against the competencies given above. Q6. Formative assessment is not about choosing specialised terms without getting into the context and the nature of the activity. we seem to be at loss of words and perhaps some ideas.2 Example 2: What does ‘good’ or ‘v.II G VG VG VG VG VG VG VG VG VG VG VG VG 105 . Assessing a child for her observational skills requires opportunities for making ‘observations’. Draw any five sources of water. Draw and show the main directions. 5. argue or analyze. iii) We should play on the road. ii) Eating place should be clean. good’ tell us? School. 7 . iv) Water has no shape of its own.

Very Good VG VG VG G A+ A+ VG VG VG VG A+ A+ The school uses the same indicators to give feedback on EVS/Science and Social Science separately.Presentation: Oral Written Pictorial Curiosity Test Grades G-Good.with the help of an advanced peer .with the help of an advanced peer .even when the criteria are not given o with the help of an advanced peer o with adult supervision o self .3 Example 3: Do we know what the child has learnt? School-III Report Card EVS OBSERVATION A) Can compare according to various attributes . This graded feedback is supplemented with some comments given by the teacher: “Milind’s understanding skills are very good.” What does saying ‘very good’ or ‘good‘ for a given competence. He presents his work methodically and well on time. He is able to relate the concepts spontaneously to the surroundings. for ‘understanding skills’ tell parents about their child’s learning ? The comments given by teachers do not give any specific information about the child’s engagement. For instance.with adult supervision .self directed C) Can classify when the criteria are mentioned . VG.with adult supervision .self directed D) Can classify even when no criteria are mentioned 106 Teacher’s observation .directed B) Can contrast when the criteria are mentioned . He works hard to present neat work. in all its diverse facets be labeled in two categories? 5. we do not get any information for our queries -Why has the teacher given ‘very good’ in ‘project work’ and what was actually done by the child? Is it sufficient for a parent to know that the child’s teacher gives ‘good’ or ‘very good’ to the child? What purpose can these two remarks serve? How can each child’s learning. It does not tell us anything about the concepts which were dealt with in class or the activities conducted. He answers very systematically and with confidence during discussions.2. say.only when the criteria are given o with the help of on advanced peer o with adult supervision o self –directed .

and also about the child’s involvement in those activities. 107 . The example for ‘observation’ is given here.self directed E) Demonstrates curiosity towards observation .with the help of an advanced peer .shares findings with others . Not much on Learning Progress School IV Report Card Processes Areas that Meets age/development level require support requirements Demonstrates strengths in a variety of familiar situations Interest and basic concepts Observations and questions Project work General awareness Expansive or inventive thinking and problem solving Applications Assignments This table does not specify the concepts for which the child could meet all age/ development level requirements. it does not tell us what the child did learn? What were the struggles that the child faced or what were the stages that the child went through at different points of time? What would be helpful are specific comments about some activities done in class.4 Example 4: Personal Comments. for instance. This progress sheet can give us an idea about the effort that the teacher must need to fill it. in the kind of support that the child requires for different kinds of assignments.. Some of the comments given by teachers of this school are reproduced here: iv) Anil is a keen learner and is progressing steadily.observes.observes minute details This school has developed a long list of indicators for every area of competences. He is blessed with vivid imagination. but expresses only when probed . All the indicators are also categorised into further grades. this report does not spell out the nature of support required. If. It also does not indicate the difference. “Bhaiya universe dk rks birthday ugha vkrk gksxk\ v) We found him engrossed in making a colourful rangoli for “Patterns and Designs.” vi) Ashwini shows enthusiasm in the themes that interest him. the child requires support for assignments.with adult supervision . Reasoning. if any.2. Evaluation and Collaborative learning. Similarly there are other areas of competence – Data collection. Yet. 5.

k banana dks rks seeds ugha gksrs mldk isM+ dSls mxrk gS \ viii) nhnh gj leave esa dksbZ pattern gSA ix) Often we find him sharing his knowledge and experience with the group. reporting: 3 b. Discussion: 1 Bisaniya observes fine details. The statement – “He is very enthusiastic and curious and loves to experiment” – does not tell anything about the activities for which the child shows any enthusiasm. traits and interests. she will start sharing her views more confidently. However. the activity done and the objectives being met. look at the following examples of two progress reports of children from Class III and Class V on each of the EVS indicators (given in Section 2. There is no mention and analysis of the child’s learning. 5. He loves to work with the group. The teachers engage with the children very deeply. crockery. 108 . 5.For a given indicator.3 Progress Report with Grades for Indicators Finally.1 The Half Yearly Progress Report of Bisaniya. and is hesitant to participate in group discussions. which she shares only when asked.The child performs adequately but can be motivated to do better with proper feedback. incidentally. a student of Class III a. dresses. bathroom tiles. does not have to be the child’s weakness but is more likely to be the ‘weakness’ of the school or the entire system!). x) xi) These personalized observations indicate that the teachers carefully observe each child in order to assess her learning. a careful look at these comments shows that these comments have the danger of becoming ritualistic. fried and baked. 3 . When asked to look for objects with patterns of leaves and flowers. In all of these profiles the idea of progression is missing. Though it is significant that these reports do not discourage children by pointing out their ‘weaknesses’ (which.3. She is not hesitant in asking questions. Bisaniya has original ideas.bed sheet. she observed floral patterns on many things at home . but needed a lot of probing for examples about food items which are eaten raw. One cannot make out much about the trajectory of development of the child in the course of a year and the nature of support needed. the child needs a lot of support from adults and peers. Observation. 2 . The progress of students is reported twice a year on the basis of the following grades: 1 . She also observed birds and animals around the trees in the school garden and wrote detailed reports. If family members involve her in discussions and decision-making.The child’s understanding or skill is well developed with respect to her age. When we went through a large number of reports we found that teachers normally used very general statements with only few specific observations on a particular child. yet there could be more effort to identify the challenges before children and the support that can help them further. In the unit on Food she listened to her group members.vii) His queries cause brainstorming for the group. It also helps them in recognizing individual strengths. and she also recorded her observations in a table. HkS.8).

more cat and bird fights. she responded – “to keep the dogs. in the house and on the ground. she wrote about traffic congestion on the roads. strengths and weaknesses.house. emotions. such a detailed feedback also tells parents about the kinds of activities done in the class. She does not take initiatives in group settings. she could not list similarities between the birds living on a tree. We must completely do away with marks. She needs encouragement to do such activities independently. Concern for Justice: 3 j. Bisaniya rarely asks questions in the class.c. and struggles. Explanation: 2 She used good colour combinations and designs when she made a clay. wild animals and thieves away”. Expression: 3 Bisaniya expresses creatively through drawing. and wrote a nice poem. a duller sky. esjk ?kj fdruk lqanj jgrs gSa ge blosQ vanj bldh Nr Iks jgrs canj mlosQ lkeus gS cM+k leqanj d. Analysis: 3 h. In response to the question . poems and clay work. as all members are expected to present. on tree. like in water. she did not make the toy train using empty matchboxes. On thinking about why the ladder is removed from the houses at night (p. safety of birds and their eggs etc. She remains at ease with group members and shares materials. A qualitative feedback gives information to the parents about what the child did in that quarter and which are the areas in which the child needs support. but I remember one interesting question she asked “Howis it that we get cold water from the hand pump even during summer months?” Bisaniya tries to predict and suggest hypotheses about various things.118 Class III NCERT textbook). my sister can not hear” (p. She developed many categories about where we see birds.56 NCERT Textbook). Bisaniya is very sensitive towards others’ needs.45 NCERT) she wrote a poem about her classmate Rishabh (who cannot see). Experimentation: 1 i. She drew the picture of her house. Very importantly. When the group made sprouted moong (p.65 NCERT Textbook) dish. Cooperation: 2 It is important to emphasize here that we need to give a qualitative feedback to the parents about their child's learning. Classification: 2 f. but does her work quietly. She likes others to take the lead and responsibilities. After reading the poem “I have a sister. But when it comes to ‘presentation of the work’ she withdraws. Questioning: 2 g. She needs more opportunities to look for similarities and differences. However. During the theme Travel. and the kind of support they can provide to the child.what would happen if all the birds started walking on earth? (p. showing how carefully she had observed his difficulties and everyday victories. She tries to give her own reasons and explanations. she did not participate. e. 109 .it is for people on a wheel chair. This kind of feedback becomes a reference point for the family to know about their child's progress. which creates problems. In her clay house she made a ramp and said . empty trees. decorated it with Rangoli patterns. Bisaniya does not show much interest in making things and experimenting with materials.

In the class activity on solubility.The following report of a student of Class V reflects the progress in the abilities and the different activities now performed in a higher class as compared to those in the earlier example from Class III. He even noticed that ducks and swans had skin between the toes.3. he showed that the green colour of water was because of algae. which all the children enjoyed.what MCD should build on the land near the school and why? . I will change his group and put him with children who are more confident and expressive during discussions. and joy seemed very natural. Cooperation 2 110 . He is now sharing his things too. Explanation 1 e. b. 5. He enjoyed and took the lead in collecting and putting different things in water for the 'floatation and sinking' unit. Gurmeet is gradually learning to work with others.why is it that we blow on a candle to put it off but we blow on a chulha to make the fire stronger? He also wanted to know why rickshaw pullers and people who build houses work so hard but are the poorest. animals and insects in the pond and presented it in a table. he categorised substances not only as soluble and insoluble in water but also as partially/slightly soluble and soluble only on heating.he remained adamant that a park should be built and did not listen to what others had to say. This ability and curiosity needs to be nurtured by giving him more opportunities to explore books and resources. For readers not familiar with the NCERT textbooks it also gives an idea of the kinds of lessons and activities these contain. He also made a very nice sprinkler using a plastic bottle. Discussion 1 c.2 The Half Yearly Progress Report of Gurmeet. Gurmeet needs support in predicting and making hypotheses. During the group discussion . However he has stopped calling Jeevan 'pagal' after I sat and talked to him about the autistic child. Gurmeet is curious but is not able to make logical connections in offering explanations. physical stress. Experimentation 3 h. He did not infer. Concern for Justice 2 j. from the stories and pictures given. Analysis 1 i. Gurmeet enjoys manipulating and improvising with materials. He once hid Anmol’s crutches and did not return them till he started weeping. Observation 3 Gurmeet observes fine details of objects and events. that the variation in different houses in different regions was due to differences in climate. he took his assigned responsibility to collect data about the taps leaking in the toilets. During the class visit to a pond. Gurmeet needs more support to realize the challenges of differently abled children. Gurmeet is not a patient listener. During the project on saving water. Gurmeet amazed everybody by miming how 'Bichandri Pal' would have climbed difficult mountains and what she would have felt on reaching the peak. Gurmeet is able to develop categories by comparing and contrasting situation. The questions he asks often force me to think about my own concepts. a student of Class V a. He wants to force his point of view on others. Classification 2 f. The different emotions on his face like determination. so no consensus was reached. Expression 3 d. He asked . He was not able to make the connection between the presence of moisture and rotting of bread even though he had set up the experiment in different conditions with group members. Questioning 3 g. He also made a long list of plants.

Assessing on a large number of indicators is good. motivates the child to do better. the teacher can go over and reflect on the assignments.7. 5. if we sum up the performance on different indicators and conflate it into one overall grade. the portfolio of each child. By the time children finish primary school we should have helped their abilities and concepts to develop along the following indicators: 111 . oral presentation of work). This shows that the teaching process has contributed to the development of the child and has been positive and meaningful for her. so that by the end of the month we have one observation for every child. and note the level at which the child is performing on the indicators. One. gives a good idea to the teacher and parents about her progress. the real picture gets blurred. At the end of six months the teacher can go over these observations and prepare a progress card on how the child has been doing on different EVS indicators. 5.4 Separate Grades for Each Indicator You would have noticed that the report cards talk about a large number of indicators of learning and report separately on each of these. Such labels make little contribution to the growth and improvement of a person's abilities. in some areas a student may be a good performer (e. We should not look for one overall grade by combining the grades of all the indicators. This is done through three grades of performance -1. Thus an assessment report should indicate the level of performance in different areas. From that record and their observations they can write such a report card for every child – making note of what the child has done and what she can do further with specific help. It captures quite a range in children's level of performance and reflects a real picture. to show ‘requiring support’. It is more important to give specific feedback on the work done. For instance. However.5 Detailed List of EVS Indicators (Class III to V) The broad EVS Indicators were listed in section 2. even writing some lines about 3-4 children everyday. 3 (as in section 5. Everyday. ‘adequate’ or 'well developed'.5). You will notice that giving some personal details about a child is important – it shows that the teacher has taken personal interest in the learning of each student and.When teachers keep a diary to record children’s activities and abilities. Secondly. observations on 3 to 5 children may be noted down in a register. Examples of such observations of individual children have been reported in Section III. we can make a more detailed list to see how each indicator consists of many abilities that need to be developed over the three years. 2. Once in 3 or 6 months. because the weightage of each indicator is not necessarily equal. In addition. It is most important to note the progress a child makes in comparison to her previous level of performance on an indicator. Every single assignment or activity done by a student need not be given a grade. The level of a student on an indicator needs to be assessed after seeing a number of assignments and observations related to the student.g. This kind of assessment can be done when a teacher takes care to note down observations and incidents related to a child's learning on a regular basis. the activities and participation of the child in class. Also the person gets labelled as ‘good’ or ‘poor’ without reflecting her actual range of performance in different areas. grasp of a concept) and in others she may require support (e. which contains all the work she has done in class. more importantly. they have a record of each child at the end of every month.g.

even strangers outside school • 3. events and people • • Raising critical questions that help deeper analysis • Asking questions based on hypothesis • Identifying questions which can be answered by their own investigations • Recognising that some questions cannot be answered by inquiry 112 . which • needs no evidence) 5. • Thinking critically about one’s own reasoning Making logical connections • • Making simple hypotheses – to explain observations or relationships in terms of a principle or concept • Recognising that there can be more than one possible explanation of an event/actvity • Recognsising the need to test explanations by gathering more evidence Using evidence or patterns to make a prediction (as different from a guess.1. Questioning Asking questions to get information about objects. Observation and Recording • Using the senses to gather information Observing an object. developing the basic ability to draw simple maps Expressing one’s own ideas and thoughts through creative writing • • 4. with gradually increasing complexity 2. Explanation • Formulating one’s own reasoning for an observed event/activity. Discussion • Listening to others’ ideas and opinions Expressing one’s thoughts/ideas/opinions in a group • • Reacting and responding to others’ ideas and opinions • Openness to accept feedback from others and appreciating that others may have a different point of view • Reviewing one’s thoughts and ideas depending on feedback from others Finding out from other people. sculpting in clay Expressing through drawings • • Understanding that making a drawing of a place is different from making a symbolic map. Classification • Identifying a group of objects on the basis of observable characteristics Identifying differences/contrasts in groups of objects • • Identifying similarities in groups of objects Grouping the objects on the basis of one variable at a time • 6. Expression • Expressing verbally • Expressing oneself through gestures/body language. maps and tables. an event or a phenomenon • • Identifying differences between similar objects/events Identifying similarities between different objects/events • • Noticing greater details • Recognising the order of events that take place in a sequence Reporting and narrating an event or process. oral and written presentations • • Reading pictures.

individually and in a group • Doing activities individually or in a group through systematic steps Showing respect and care for living beings • • Showing concern for minimum wastage of materials. we can see that these are deeply linked to each other. and changing ideas when a different one makes better sense of evidence Making inferences based on evidence gained by experiences/experiments • 8. We have given many examples of activities.we observe. assessment tasks can be designed so that they are holistic in general but there may be a few that are specific to a particular indicator. We develop our sensitivities on social issues. tasks and questions to assess their learning. 113 . Many processes take place together though we may engage with one kind of process more intensely for some time. the teaching of EVS must provide opportunities to the child to interact with her environment in the best possible way. Most importantly. However. which children enjoy doing. Thus teaching has to be integrated and holistic. explain and classify.7. Analysis Defining the situation/event in their own language • • Identifying/predicting possible causes of any event/ phenomenon Checking evidence which does not fit into the pattern of findings • • Treating every conclusion as being open to challenge by new evidence. Co-operation • Accepting one’s own strengths and weaknesses Appreciating others’ view points • • Taking initiatives/responsibility in conducting collective work Sharing and working with others. If we study the list of indicators for learning in EVS. throughout the year or even at the time of quarterly tests. being considerate and helpful towards others • We have discussed how assessment of learning across different indicators is crucial to ensure the child’s development at the primary stage. express. analyse and experiment. being able to reflect and question • Having a strong sense of justice and being ready to act for a just cause 10. All these processes unfold together as we construct knowledge about something . We hope ‘examinations’ in EVS will change to become learning activities in themselves. We question. Experimentation • Handling things or equipment with care . There may be some doubts whether assessment tasks need to be designed for each indicator separately. Concern for Justice and Equality • Being receptive to views of children from different life experiences/cultures • Being sensitive towards others who may be disadvantaged and differently abled • Conscious of inequalities in the family and society. We take initiative and help each other. discuss. trying to reuse and recycle • Using standard or non-standard measures in making comparisons and taking readings • Improvising and creating new things on their own 9.

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