How will this school be different?
Ichche Dana Learning Center is a place where children can feel safe to learn. The focus is on the children, not the syllabus. We work with the children to identify their strengths and weaknesses and create measurable goals. The modalities include:
- Khan Academy Flipped Classroom approach for math
- Identity based studies of culture, governance, geography, and history
- Liaison with specific classrooms/experts in the US and Australia via Skype.
- Field trips for application of interdisciplinary learning
- Music, dance, art, song as integral to the integration of thought and expression
- ALWAYS reaching for excellence; always appreciating the effort that is being made.
Typical scene from our school: the older girls reading to the younger. The book on the table: My Remembering is Broken is written by Nicki Hurwitz, who was here as part of Curtin University and Equal Health.
What we Provide:
A safe environment free of humiliation. This would seem obvious and maybe what all schools should be, but it is of particular importance for children who assume they are worthless. They had shut down emotionally and academically. Within a WEEK of beginning Ichche Dana they were working at sentence structure, grammar, and most importantly beginning to take interest in learning.
A focus on understanding and integrating information. An early project was about plant life. We developed our garden and labeled plants. We studied the world map and India to correlate the origins of the trees in different sections of the Botanical Gardens. We had a special tour guide at the Botanical Gardens.
At the same time we fixed up our garden and planted spices and greens we use in cooking. We studied what plants needed for growth. It’s not that they hadn’t been exposed to this information before, but none of it seemed to mean anything to them. It was only about memorizing words for a test. Now they were being helped to put things together.
Next the girls did a presentation on what they had learned.
They did the presentation in front of the 20 educators who were with us for a week as part of Equal Health and Curtin University in Australia.
The presenters: The two with severe Cerebral Palsy presented by tapping the iPad screens that correlated with the spoken presentations.
The girls do presentations every two weeks, on whatever they are learning in their class. This has worked wonders for their confidence. Apart from class content the presentations have also been on their educational trips like the metro ride, trip to Science City, and after a trip to the beach, making salt from sea water and looking at organisms in the sea water under the microscope, among others.
They are now working on a play, The Emperor’s New Clothes, which would include all the children, including the differently-abled children and also the childcare workers. It will be a truly inclusive activity.
We have also started some of our girls on the online K5 learning program, for extended English and Math lessons. We have been using different technologies and apps to make teaching more efficient.