Be! Stories teach kids skills at school in India

 
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Jul 5, 2013

Going to School in Bihar

Harshita Kumari
Harshita Kumari

Year 2 of Be! Schools is just about to begin. We've trained 2,000 teachers across 1,000 schools to use the dynamic entrepreneurial skills stories with children. As I write this, 5,000 sets of 21 books are on their way to Bihar. The monsoon is still washing away roads, which makes delivery to schools in deep rural India very hard work. When trucks can't go all the way, our team jumps out and walks carrying the heavy books to ensure they'll reach children in school. We're excited about Year 2. We have nine new skills stories: Goal Goa (ethics & teamwork), Majid Makes Jam (Be resourceful), Madhur's Book of Memories (Documenting information), Asha makes a budget (making a budget), Risky Business (take a risk!), The Magician's Secret (Tolerance for Ambiguity), Short Circuit (Financial Literacy), Who will you choose? (how to crack a job interview) & It's not scary it's just paper (register your business). And we've made changes to our last year's content that's really popular with children, My Family Tree & Bijali Brings the Carnival to her village, to ensure the stories reflect what children have told us. We've also created five new board games including one to make a business plan!

It's time to go to school in Bihar, India again.

Thank you for your gift to send beautiful design-driven skills stories to children in school.

We're sharing with you postcards from children in Bihar.

Kundan Kumar
Kundan Kumar
Nikki Kumari
Nikki Kumari
Saurabh Kumar Pandey
Saurabh Kumar Pandey
Anjali Kumari
Anjali Kumari

Links:

Apr 19, 2013

Let's go to the bank (at school)

Mavis Ratna Singh’s class of Grade 9 boys at Daroga Prasad High School was the first to complete Book 15: Manjeri’s Business Loan and one week later, they crossed the finish line: they went to the bank to understand just how it works.

Be! works like this: after reading the story, kids are asked to; choose the business they’d like to start, making sure it solves a social, economic or environmental problem. They write a mini business plan and do the numbers and calculations to make a cash flow statement. From this they can then determine the size of loan they would need to take from the bank to start their business.

Now, the kids are ready to visit the local bank! 

But before they do, they prepare and write down the questions they want to ask the Bank Manager about how to take a loan.

Mavis called the SBI Bank Manager and got permission for the boys to visit. He said YES. She had also asked permission from her school Principal who was very supportive and helped in the planning and arrangements of the visit.

On Saturday, Mavis then set out with as many boys as possible stuffed in her car and a fleet of more boys followed on their bicycles. The fifteen boys who got permission had prepared their questions (with help from their friends) and Mavis gave them numbers to set the order in which to ask questions.

The Bank Manager, Mr. Kumar was absolutely delighted by the visit. He could not believe it these young boys had such insightful questions. They were so polite. It was exactly what should happen at school, a visit to the bank! He ended the day by saying: “I’m so impressed by all of you and I wish you all well in the future!” He then gave every boy a chocolate.

Mavis tells us the boys enjoyed the field trip so much that they wanted it to last longer. Her only regret was that she could not take more children. It seems like everyone in the ‘Going to...’ program (that’s what they call us, not Going to School :)) wanted to go too, but the Principal had only allowed fifteen in the first go because of safety and permission.

As the visit was such a success and all the boys were talking about at school, they arranged it again for the next Saturday. And this time we went along...

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQW1q7GMRlI&feature=share&list=UUnLSJaciXxDwvUCuHyFqs8w

Links:

Jan 15, 2013

Skills@Scale: postcards & prizes, recognizing the little things in 2013

Skills@scale: Postcards & prizes, recognizing the little things in 2013

When Sarwat, one of our team members, visited a school last month, the children recognized her immediately: “You wrote to us!” they exclaimed and Sarwat nodded, removing another surprise from her bag: a backpack for young girl with the best project.

You see, for most of 2012, the team in Bihar and Delhi, had been overwhelmed by the quality and design of children’s projects that we collect each week: thousands of children have been hard at work collecting giant yellow chart paper with glitter, ribbon, interwoven two colour drawings, intricate design, even 3D models and portraits. So while we collect and grade each project, and we’d sent postcards, we decided we needed to do more. We thought we’d visit schools as a surprise, and reward children whose projects were superlative.

We’ve been delighted that children and teachers were quite plainly shocked to see us coming to meet them personally with prizes. Teachers and principals were extremely proud that their students were recognized and rewarded. Now, there is no going back. While we will continue to track each child and school by the number of skills projects we collect each week, and their grades for each project, we know there is no replacement for surprises, personal connections and recognition. And we know this means we’ll be writing even more postcards, and making even more visits with prizes in 2013.

Links:

Oct 15, 2012

Stories from Bihar: How we're doing

Nishu Anand from P.N Anglo High School, Patna. A family tree project stood out from the pile of hundreds of skills projects. We looked at the beautiful shades of orange, yellow and brown make the most unusual but beautiful tree impression on a large piece of cheap white paper. As we started monitoring the first activity skills projects handed in by the children, we saw a parchment similarly made just as beautiful. We realized it was the same boy whose unique sense of design and skill stood out in all his work and was easily identifiable. In fact we realized that he possibly used the same three colours because he didn’t possess any others. The confident, powerful strokes with the great combinations and aesthetic use of the colours surprised us, as his skill and ability paralleled professional designer work we had seen before. We wondered if he himself knew how talented he was... we visited his school to give him an award and are talking to the local newspaper to print photos of him and his artwork. 

 

Md Shahid Raza, Miller High School, Patna

As we sat monitoring the fourth activity for Jaane Kyun?, we realized that this activity was particularly multilayered, having many different elements to evaluate as it’s a group activity. The more activities we saw, small parts were sometimes being left out or some concepts seemed unclear, even though the effort and attempt was apparent. We finally came across one activity which was complete in every way and beautiful and creative as well. Each aspect of it was included the way it was supposed to be. Concepts were surprisingly clear and very well presented, and each step of the activity, including little pointers and notes given in the instructions had been clearly and creatively presented. As we looked for the names of the group of students who had made this project, we saw only one name and realized that it was only one child that had done the entire project: Md Shahid Raza. We were very surprised he had completed the project by himself, it could not have been an easy task. It would take an exceptional child, to be able to do this. We sent him a personal postcard and went to visit his school to congratulate him and his teacher. 

 

One afternoon, our Master Trainer Sarwat received a phone call and had an extended, hearty and enthusiastic conversation with the school teacher, Mrs. Sangeeta Sinha, P.N Anglo High School, Patna. She had apparently just called to tell Sarwat that she, while going though the Teacher Manual to prepare for the second activity Entrepreneurs are Everywhere, realized that this activity was very different from what her students were used to, so she had come up with her own solution. She took two days before that Saturday to do the whole activity at home, so by Saturday she had a sample project ready. After the story was read in all the classes, everyone was explained what to do next for their activity and she walked around to all the sections showing them the sample project she had made so that they were clear about what to do. It would have been one of their first group activities, in which they had to go out into their neighbourhoods and interview a local entrepreneur and then write a newspaper article about him/her. She happily told Sarwat that the students had already submitted their newspapers and had made them beautifully as well as correctly, and she was ready to submit them to us. She had called Sarwat to reassure her that the students were able to do even the second activity and there was nothing to worry about. And inspired teacher can make a huge difference.

 

Pooja Kumari from Gandhi Arya Kanya Uchha Vidyalaya, Mansoor Ganj, Patna.

 

As our team sat in our office buried under projects, charts and papers, Abha passed me a small and flimsy booklet to evaluate. Still trying to find a universal way to evaluate the ‘presentations’ of these projects as it was still the first activity, The Little Box of Big Skills, I picked up the booklet and began reading the neatly written paragraph stories and realized exactly how subjective this process can be. As I flipped the pages I realized that the paper had uneven edges, and the project was actually pieces of scrap paper torn neatly and stapled together. I read through the stories and they were beautiful and original, explaining the skills in very unique but accurate ways. At the back of each story were drawings in pencil also representing what happens in the stories. It was a complete and creative skills project which when we began to evaluate and give marks, we gave Pooja 11/12, one of the highest marks we had ever given. Pooja is brilliant.

 

 

Links:


Attachments:
Oct 15, 2012

Stories from Bihar: How we're doing

My Family Tree
My Family Tree

Nishu Anand from P.N Anglo High School, Patna. A family tree project stood out from the pile of hundreds of skills projects. We looked at the beautiful shades of orange, yellow and brown make the most unusual but beautiful tree impression on a large piece of cheap white paper. As we started monitoring the first activity skills projects handed in by the children, we saw a parchment similarly made just as beautiful. We realized it was the same boy whose unique sense of design and skill stood out in all his work and was easily identifiable. In fact we realized that he possibly used the same three colours because he didn’t possess any others. The confident, powerful strokes with the great combinations and aesthetic use of the colours surprised us, as his skill and ability paralleled professional designer work we had seen before. We wondered if he himself knew how talented he was... we visited his school to give him an award and are talking to the local newspaper to print photos of him and his artwork. 

 

Md Shahid Raza, Miller High School, Patna. As we sat monitoring the fourth activity for Jaane Kyun?, we realized that this activity was particularly multilayered, having many different elements to evaluate as it’s a group activity. The more activities we saw, small parts were sometimes being left out or some concepts seemed unclear, even though the effort and attempt was apparent. We finally came across one activity which was complete in every way and beautiful and creative as well. Each aspect of it was included the way it was supposed to be. Concepts were surprisingly clear and very well presented, and each step of the activity, including little pointers and notes given in the instructions had been clearly and creatively presented. As we looked for the names of the group of students who had made this project, we saw only one name and realized that it was only one child that had done the entire project: Md Shahid Raza. We were very surprised he had completed the project by himself, it could not have been an easy task. It would take an exceptional child, to be able to do this. We sent him a personal postcard and went to visit his school to congratulate him and his teacher. 

Getting to the bottom of it: solving problems!
Getting to the bottom of it: solving problems!
My teacher is an entrepreneur
My teacher is an entrepreneur

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Project Leader

Lisa Heydlauff

Director
New Delhi, India

Where is this project located?

Map of Be! Stories teach kids skills at school in India