Getting a grip on geography

Anindita Dutta, Ashmita Chatterjee, Shazia Akhtar

‘If a child is not learning the way you are teaching then you must teach in a way the child learns.’ – Rita Dunn

Guided by the very diverse intellectual profile of the students in a classroom, we decided to craft a lesson addressing the multiple intelligences, or potentials represented in the room. We chose ‘States of India and their capitals’ for class IV, which was one of the initial topics to be taught in geography. As this is primarily a knowledge-based topic, it was a challenge to us, educators, to engage the students with the lesson beyond superficial learning. But this task was made easier through the use of technology and activities incorporated in the plan.

tigers The states we selected for the first unit lesson were the commonly known states from the north, south, east, west, and central India. West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh and their capitals were the ones we decided to teach.

We expected the students to be familiar with the ‘look’ of the map of India and to have some knowledge about the state they belong to or may have visited and that they knew the cardinal directions – North, South, East, and West.

The teaching objectives of this lesson were that the students should be able to: Recall the names of states and capitals of India (the selected ten), recognize a few of their significant features and indicate their location. They should also be able to interpret that India is a diverse nation and distinguish between the different features of the States.

The teaching aids used to support the lesson:

  • Music tracks from ten different states compiled and played during the introductory activity arousing curiosity and interest.
  • Flash Cards – greetings in various Indian regional languages written on flash cards used to highlight the ‘Unity in Diversity’ of languages of India.
  • Jigsaw puzzle pieces to form the map of India, to help them understand that different states come together as one country – INDIA.
  • A PPT made using Photoshop working out the puzzle and teaching the location of the specified states and their capitals. The visual impact of the PPT helps the learning last longer.
  • A quiz, also in the PPT format, used as a summative assessment to evaluate the students’ learning in a stress-free manner.
  • A short movie (made using Windows Movie Maker) on the significant features of the above mentioned states making the learning more effective and realistic.
  • Worksheet used as a formative assessment.
  • Blackboard, to reinforce the significant features and capitals of the mentioned states.

Let us now take you through the 40-minute lesson.

Introduction of the topic: Each student gets a flash card with a greeting written in a different regional language of India. While the audio track plays, the students move around. As the music stops, greetings and the flash cards are exchanged. Students identify the state to which these greetings belong. Then, the students are divided into groups of six and are given jigsaw puzzle pieces to assemble.

konark-temple Part 1 – Development of concepts: A PPT reconstructs the puzzle and highlights the selected ten states and their capitals. This is used to teach the topic.

Reinforcements: Students work in pairs to fill up the worksheet given with either states or capitals mentioned. The answers are put up in four different corners of the classroom for help.

Part 2 – Development of concepts: A self-made movie highlighting some important features of those ten states is shown.

Reinforcements: Memory game is conducted where the groups of six note down as many features as they remember of any two states shown in the movie clipping.

Conclusion: The answers which are discussed and noted on the blackboard help summarize and recapitulate.

As a summative assessment, a PPT is used to conduct a quiz which includes questions both for the average and the gifted students. It also helps to assess the multiple intelligence of the students.

As a follow up assignment, students are asked to research the distinguishing features of any two states taught and make a poster for the next class.

With the help of the various techniques used to teach “States & their Capitals” we have addressed all the eight multiple intelligences of the students.

This lesson plan was prepared for the competition ‘Learning with moving images’ organized by Bichitra Pathshala in collaboration with the Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, Kolkata and has been awarded the best learning design for the year 2016.

We were highly appreciated for presenting a well-thought out learning design on ‘States & Capitals’ using visual, auditory and kinaesthetic stimuli to excite and engage the students. Our lesson will also serve a very important purpose of cultural integration among students at an early age.

The authors are teachers at Modern High School, Kolkata.