As nineteen hands shoot up in the air, third grade teacher Indra Bhandari can’t help but smile. She calls on one student for a response to the question she’s posed, and a chorus of voices meets her ears, providing the answer in unison. It’s a pattern that continues throughout the lesson, with the student that has been called upon straining to be heard over the commotion.
The events of the day are a common scene at Shree Krishna Nepal Rastriya Primary School, which launched a partnership with Room to Read in 2008. Since that time, Room to Read has worked with the community of Pyuthan to establish a school library, construct new classrooms and provide support and materials for literacy instruction. The classrooms now teem with eager students, many of whom walk for more than two hours to school each day.
“The materials from the Reading and Writing Instruction program have helped us a lot,” says Ms. Bhandari. “The word pinwheels, alphabet cards, consonant-vowel charts and posters help the students to grasp the fundamental aspects of Nepali language and the subtle nuances sprinkled throughout it.”
Today she is preparing the class for a group exercise that involves the word pinwheels, which have different letter combinations on each layer that can be lined up to create a full word or sentence. “I separate the class in groups,” explains Ms. Bhandari. “Afterward, I have them recite the words and sentences they made using the tool.”
She has introduced activities like the pinwheel game in an effort to make the classroom more interactive and lively—a concept she learned during her in-service training, provided by Room to Read. The training has led to a fundamental shift in Ms. Bhandari’s teaching methods, and in three short years she has already seen impressive results. “My students are actively participating in class now,” she says. “They are no longer passive listeners as before.”
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