Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Why should one travel in India?

My feet itch if I am stationed at home for long periods. It aches for new travel and new experience and I am sure majority agree with me that there is no better therapy than travel. As Ibn Battuta quotes,  

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” 

With corona policing our lives, the traveling did take a hit. Where we were global travellers, we now became local travellers. The past 18 months gave me an opportunity to glimpse into our culture more deeply as we began visiting rural areas tucked somewhere deep in the heart of the state. Tasting the local food, meeting the local people and listening to their stories resonated an echo that no matter what the difference; urban or rural, educated or uneducated, socially advantaged or disadvantaged, FAMILY came first for all. Everybody wanted to protect and safeguard their family. 

I had never realized the past few decades living in Maharashtra that deep in Igatpuri, would be natural wonders. The place is so untouched and raw that you pray that no one comes and commercializes it. I am sure looking at the pictures, you feel the same. 


The past few months, with Covid cases reducing, we took trips to other states and having heard of the Statue of Unity, we first took our trip to Gujarat. The statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel standing at 182m is a wonder to behold. You feel an immense sense of pride and patriotism observing the hard work put in by all the people to create this majestic place with gardens, cafes and much more. Talking to the people at Kevadia, I realized that this project transformed the small unknown place into a tourist attraction and has created a sustainable livelihood for them. Even in the month of August, under the scorching heat they had numerous visitors and their joy was boundless.

A few days back, I visited Benares and having heard of it through countless history books, novels and grandparents, I was excited and curious. My husband had visited it years back and came back disappointed as the lanes were too narrow and crowded. As I landed, I was greeted by smiling faces and the travel from the airport to the city was smooth. The roads were broad and there was immense construction work happening all around.  With my friends, Tanya and Nivedita and a wonderful host, Utsav Tiwari, we visited the Kashi Vishwanath temple [] and watched the Ganga Aarti. The entire aarti was mesmerizing as the pujaris showcased complete coordination with their movements. The entire energy was divine. We visited the numerous Ghats, appreciated the heritage passed onto us by our ancestors and ate the traditional, tasty Baati Chokha .  Moreover, Benares is the hub for shopping and every woman will lite up with the vast range of offerings the markets provide. I do recommend Benares for every avid explorer. 

Last week, I visited Rishikesh and Haridwar and the spiritual engagement prevailed. There is something magical about these places as you wish to spend some time going inside than outside your body. You wish to synergize the energies and reflect on the true purpose of your life. The people out here are warm and helpful. If you are travelling this side, do carry proper woolens and immerse yourselves in the variety of activities like rafting, yoga, trekking and much more. It isn't a shoppers paradise but definitely a showstopper paradise. 

India is a treasure trove and every state you visit will offer different experiences. I am eager to visit the North east and other spaces to interact with the locals there and study their cultures and traditions. So even though we fear Covid and its consistent mutations, try to invest in a few trips following all protocols this new year with your loved ones and venture into unknown places. Who knows, you might come back feeling completely rejuvenated and creative and most importantly positive.  Life is beautiful and travel makes it all the more precious. 

As Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes, 

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” 

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

The Squid Game - A message for educators

''Squid Game'' is a rage with more than 130 million having watched it and personally when I began watching it, within two days I completed all episodes. While I was watching, my husband joined me in and could not fathom how something so cruel had me hooked. Agreed the concept is novel, the direction is excellent and the characters touch you with their outstanding acting but it is DARK. 


For starters, 456 players are given game cards and expected to play games related to childhood days where either you win or get eliminated [shot dead]. For every player lost, the winning money increases and the winner takes back 45.6 billion approx. $38.6 million. These players are poor and struggling to sustain in society. Every episode the plot keeps changing and you cannot predict the next episode. This uncertainty had me going all the time, I kept feeling that people creating a game so inhuman, so torturous had to be caught. There had to be a consequence for wrong doers but it never came. Instead the lessons were different. So, let's begin:

1. We created the game for fun - When the protagonist, Seong Gi-hun asks the creator of the game the reason for creating this game, the response was ''WE WANTED FUN". People with money have nothing exciting them and this GAME thrilled them. The definition of the word, ''FUN'' has definitely metamorphized and the impact it will have on future generations is critical. Today they feel the game is fair and all participants knew what was in store for them when they returned so the end justifies the means. I ask you, 'DOES IT?'

Lesson: Do discuss this game and hear student's perspectives. The ''5 why'' approach will take you to their root thinking. 

2. JOIN me - Police Officer, Hwang Jun-ho is frantically looking for his brother, enters the island and discovers that the front man leading the games is his brother, Hwang In-ho who was also the winner in 2015. The front man asks Hwang Jun-ho to join him and when he refuses, he is shot by his own brother. So, how are we defining relationships today? Is money the be all and end all? 

Lesson: Analyze Hwang In ho's character in class and the possible outcomes of his actions. 

3.A fair world  -The game has been running for over 30 years and no one ever asked where the people disappeared. The participants did hail from poor families, having huge debt but is the world so happy to be disposed of them. They knew what was in store for them but still went back. Why did the participants lose HOPE? Why did their family not approach higher authorities?  Are human lives so disposable? Let's introspect and ask ''How fair are we''?

Lesson: surround yourself with people who love you and will question your absence. Get students to invest in relationships. Create empathy backed curriculum. 

4. Stick to the Team - Participants are asked to make teams of 10 not knowing it is 'Tug of war'' game. Seong Gi-hun's team is weak and the opposite team is strong. If the team is pulled over, they fall from the raised platforms and die. Oh Il-nam, an elderly man with a brain tumor who prefers playing the Game as opposed to waiting to die in the outside world shares the strategies of winning this game and asks the players to work as a team. Reluctant initially, the protagonist believes in him and has others believe in him too. They win and save their lives. 

Lesson - No matter what the game, only team work reigns supreme. Every player is important so capitalize on his or her strengths. In school, create activities that promote collaboration and communication. The 'WE'' is more important than the ''I''. 

5. You are my gganbu (trusted friend). - The players are to form teams of two and then asked to play game of marbles where one competes with another. Suddenly, partners even couples try to outmaneuver the partner or sacrifice for one another. You see the worst coming out and in some the best. In life, when you are standing at a precipice, your true colours manifest. 

Lesson: Create situations in class where the masks fall and identities emerge. Ensure that there will be no judgements but follow up with consistent discussions and counselling so that students always choose the right path. 

At the end the protagonist is leaving for United States to meet his daughter and notices the same game card moving around. He wonders who is running the games as the creator dies after his interaction with him. He feels responsible that no more lives should be lost for a game and returns back. This ending gives me hope for humanity. 

My final takeaway is that such serials as entertainment purpose is fine but if real life imitates reel life then the consequences could be detrimental. We have to help the students differentiate between the two and recognize the possible outcomes. 

आकिञ्चन्ये न मोक्षोऽस्ति किञ्चन्ये नास्ति बन्धनम्।
किञ्चन्ये चेतरे चैव जन्तुर्ज्ञानेन मुच्यते॥

English Translation:

There is no redemption in poverty and no binding in prosperity.
Whether there is poverty or prosperity, an individual gets liberation by conscience.​

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Gamification in Education - A robust shift

Do you recall the days we played outside like no man's business? I distinctly remember playing hopscotch, saakli, hide and seek, card games, and so on. We eagerly waited for school to end and rush to the grounds where our friends would be waiting eagerly. On reflection, I now realize the impact it had on my personality over time. It made me a social person, a team player, and the courage to lose over and over again but never give up. 


Today with technology predominant in our lives, physical games have taken a backseat but how do we bring in gaming in our classrooms to inculcate the right blend of knowledge, attitude, and values in our students?

Well, gamification is the answer. Gamification in education is incorporating game design elements like point scoring, peer competition, teamwork, score tables in classroom environments to increase students' engagement and motivation.  For example, if you are teaching addition to primary students, the Teacher uses a physical deck of cards and has students randomly select any three cards in a row to add up to a total of 10. She supports the learning by having students log on to a virtual gaming platform where they play with a deck of cards to create sets of ten and on completion of the activity, students are rewarded with stars or applause. 

If you wonder, why gamification in classrooms then gamification is learning with fun and increases engagement within the students as all children naturally love to play. It allows students to play at their own level thus avoiding judgment and criticism and build confidence within the student. It allows students to move to higher levels on completion of lower levels and thus supports scaffolding and deepen understanding of the concept. 


When the will and skill of the students are enhanced, the learning outcomes surpass the learning objectives. When a classroom teaching-learning environment uses hands-on learning either through physical or virtual games, the learning will be lifelong. Moreover, students connect concepts to daily life situations. Ex: We still remember playing Queen of Sheeba to date, a simple game used to create varied groups of say 3 or 5 people in a class of 40 students can help students understand the concept of division and the relationship between dividends, divisor, quotient, and remainder. 

It is more pertinent today, given that we are all sailing on an online platform with no physical access to our students, gamification in e-learning allows us a glimpse into our student's conceptual understanding and their emotional and mental health. Every teacher has access to the gaming platform used by students in school and is able to see where the child is struggling or is very comfortable and take measures accordingly to support new learning. 
It also gives us a glimpse of mental and emotional health through engagement and attitude. Certain games require teamwork and collaboration and when the child refuses to play, it is a red signal that somewhere something is wrong. The teacher immediately attends to it to resolve the concerns. 


To bring in gamification, there could be challenges especially the vast curriculum offered by boards which leaves teachers with less time and that is a big concern. Also, Indian classroom strengths are huge so space for physical games can be a challenge. Here e- games can support but access to technology for every home is a question mark. This challenge can become an opportunity for teachers to develop a growth mindset and attitude of adaptive thinking. Moreover, creative, innovative teachers who care and love their students have always created that path. 

Gamification is already here and both teachers and students who have access to it are embracing it positively. The new NEP speaks of a digital India with e-learning platforms like Diksha, Swayam to be extended and more virtual labs to be increased, more teacher training on online learning, we can see the Boards supporting gamification in education and using it as a tool to assess student's conceptual learning. According to Verified Market Research, Global Gamification in Education Market was valued at USD 444.1 Million in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 3,959.4 Million by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 31.29% from 2019 to 2026. We are going to see a robust shift towards digital learning in the future so why not champion it immediately. 

Friday, 16 July 2021

Types of Blended Learning

The COVID pandemic has spiralled and fast forwarded us to a digital world making the impossible possible. 

Rewind to the pre-pandemic 2019 Teachers Perspectives Survey 23/01/2019; Education & Training Foundation:

''Teachers are very open to the benefits that technology can provide and accept that it can make their jobs easier. However, teachers say they need more support using technology. 59% say that both themselves and students equally need more training, and this should come from external bodies, as well as other teachers''.

Come 2021, everyone from students to parents to teachers are all techno savvy, perusing varied platforms to achieve proficient digital skills. The 59% has definitely moved on to a larger percentage. 

As per Microsoft blog on Jun 30,2020 by Brad Smith, the lockdown will accelerate digitization. 

At present, most schools are functioning online but when schools do reopen physically, what is the new system going to look like?

You guessed it right, it is blended learning. It is an approach that combines face to face learning with online learning incorporating certain elements that support students to have control over pace, time and place. 

One might ask, is it similar to what we have been practicing during the pandemic? Well, the response is YES and NO. Let me share the varied types and you could study it to understand where your current strategy fits in. 

1.  Station Rotation Blended Learning - A rotation-model implementation where students rotate on a fixed schedule or at the teacher’s discretion among classroom-based learning modalities. This process often supports a school when there are few computers at hand within the classroom. 

Ex: In a class of 40 students, teacher teaching Algebra, teacher introduces the concept in a teacher led instruction. She then divides the group in three, where one group accesses the concept deeper through an online medium. It could be an online video or task or research. The second group works collaboratively in groups to discuss the concept or solve numerical. The third group works with the teacher either for more support or to move on to more challenging tasks and get more personalized attention.  

2. Lab Rotation Blended Learning - It is similar to Station Rotation. The only difference is that instead of doing online sessions within the classroom, the students visit the Computer lab. This helps to give more space within the classroom to students. 

Ex: Teacher teaches photosynthesis and conducts a quiz to check student's understanding. Students who demonstrate proficiency move to the lab for further independent practice like Q& A's, project work, experiments etc. Students who could not grasp the concept work with the teacher for more support. 

3. Remote or Enriched Virtual Blended learning - A course where students have fixed face to face sessions with the teacher and the remaining coursework or project, they complete remotely. 

Ex: Many Ph.D. courses have mandatory 1 month face to face courses with the guide and the remaining work is done by the researcher at his or her own pace independently of the guide. 

4. Flex Blended Learning - Imagine a school where classrooms have no fixed schedules. Both teacher and student attend school with every student in the classroom having access to a computer. All the teaching is delivered through the computer and students completes the task for the day and leaves school as per his schedule. If you are wondering how, watch the video shared in the link. School using Flex Model

5. Flipped Classroom - In this model, students are introduced to content at home and then they practice it within the classroom structure. Ex: Teacher shares videos and content matter on Egyptian civilization town planning with students prior to the lesson and asks them to peruse through it. The students go through the content at home and in the classroom, they engage in deep discussions and debates with peers and teacher. 

6. Individual Rotation Blended Learning - Allows students to rotate through different kinds of classrooms called stations. A specific ILP [Individual learning plan] is created for each student. 

Ex: Maya takes a English physical class at 8 am. She works on her assignments at an online platform from home. In the evening she books a ZOOM tutorial for further guidance. She seeks appointment for her classes through a tracking process that monitors attendance and engagement. More information on the link. Individual Rotation

7. Project -based learning - Students use online learning [courses/webinars/virtual trips/apps] along with face to face instruction or activity to collaborate and execute projects. They create and publish their work as printed or e-books, assignments, artifact or posters. Ex of classroom practice Project based Blended Learning practice

8. Inside - out and Outside -In Blended Learning [Link]- In Inside-out, learning begins in classroom and ends up beyond the physical classroom 

Ex: Teacher teaches students about domestic and wild animals in class and ends the lesson with a movie on animals seen by students at home. They move between digital and physical environments

In Outside -In, Students begin their learning in a digital environment and end the lesson in a physical environment. 

Ex: Students watch the movie on Domestic and Wild Animals' at home and in class, in the presence of the teacher they have discussions and solve worksheets. 

There are thousands of combinations where the ratio of physical to digital environment is varied as per the content objectives, resources, needs, age, control desired by the student. Moreover, they all have overlapping features catering to specific audiences. The end goal for every system is to cater to the learning needs of the individual and offer a platform where the knowledge, skills and attitudes thrive and amplify. 

Note: I personally wish to express gratitude to the SamUrja Team, Ms. Mukta Mishra, and Dr. Ashok Pandey for inspiring me to write on this theme. 


1. Microsoft launches initiative to help 25 million people worldwide acquire the digital skills needed in a COVID-19 economy, Jun 30,2020 by Brad Smith - President.

2. 12 Of The Most Common Types Of Blended Learning by TeachThought Staff,

3. The Rotation Model -

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Embed Assessment for Learning to develop equity in education

 The pandemic seems to be hitting us back and forth leaving no room for surprise. Once again all Board exams seem to be deferred or canceled leaving us with the option of falling back on our year-round online assessments. I am confident every school did their task of assessing students for knowledge, skills, and aptitudes but will we be successful in giving a fair report. Let's ask ourselves these questions.

  • Are our teachers trained for AFL? 
  • Are they equipped with the necessary digital tools and expertise to roll it out to our students? 
  • Are our students digitally savvy and have access to digital tools? 

The recent Teacher Tech Summit held on 17th April 2021,'Teachers will lead the digital learning revolution in schools' truly gave a glimpse on varied AFL strategies which we can seamlessly incorporate into our classrooms. 

So, let me begin with the meaning and need for AFL. 

As per CAIE, Assessment for learning (AfL) is an approach, integrated into teaching and learning, which creates feedback for students and teachers in order to improve learning and guide their next steps.

So let us visit understand how AFL can be incorporated within the curriculum:

1. Using a range of tools - Most of us are savvy with Google forms, MS Forms, Kahoot. Let me show a few more. 

a. Quizlet - A tool where you create learning material for your students and then they can refer to it at their own convenience and keep assessing themselves till they have mastered the concept. All you need is to create your study set ingeniously so that there is an application to real life too. The video shared by me will guide you on how I created a simple set of terms in the chapter, 'Motion in one dimension' for students to understand to move on to more challenging terms.

Students learn at their own pace and build their confidence on conceptual terms. 

b. Plio - Convert any YouTube video into an interactive lesson plan (a plio) by overlaying questions at specific timestamps in a few minutes and simply replace the YouTube link with a link to the Plio Let me show you how we can use it in the classroom.

c. Multimedia platforms for role play, journaling, audio recording like Audacity, Mote [] which allows one to share stories, podcasts and receive feedback. Loom also helps groups to create quick online videos with PowerPoint presentations or videos. 

2. Move to more open book, challenging application-based questions where students cannot find direct answers on the net or textbook. This will promote deep thinking, collaborative and research work and support building 21st-century skills. 

Instructions: You need to work in groups of 4 where one is the group leader, one is the researcher, one is material manager and one is the technologist. The rubric is attached for further directions. 

Ex: We need to build a colony on Mars for 10000 people. We need to carry people from here. Design a spacecraft for their travel arrangements and guide them on travel protocols.  How will you create living conditions for them on Mars so that they have access to good food, safe homes and social entertainment? You will receive the link to necessary resources and materials. 

3. Make AFL your primary assessment tool - Assessment drives learning but the critical question is 'What type of assessment? If we ask rote-based questions, we will design our lesson plans where students are expected to remember, understand apply. If we expect students to demonstrate their own agency and independence through research projects, case studies, multimedia media presentations then it gets incorporated within the lesson plans. 

Dylan William's five brilliant formative assessment is an excellent guide: 

The teacher has to share the learning intentions, be able to engineer the learning activity to elicit evidence of learning, and provide feedback that helps learners to move forward. 

If everybody has high levels of shared understanding of learning intentions then peers can be great supports for each other. For ex: you conduct an individual math test for the student and have them do a similar test with 2 or 3 peers where they become learning resources for each other and this collaboration becomes dynamic learning leading students to become owners of their own learning. 

Last year we were new to the pandemic but this year, we know the way forward so why not embrace AFL and move away with the dogmatic mark-driven assessments. I agree the road ahead to embed AFL will be challenging as it demands a radical mind-shift on part of the parents, teachers, management and authorities but eventually celebrates our student's uniqueness and potentials and that outweighs all roadblocks. 



2. Assessment for learning: what, why, and how? -

3. The Teacher Tech Summit: Teachers will lead the digital learning revolution in schools -


Saturday, 30 January 2021

Adopt adaptive thinking

The vaccination across the world is in full swing ensuring that the pandemic is no more looming over us.  Look around you and observe the people, what has made them survive this long bleak period? What made people change their business overnight? What made people do chores they never attempted before? What made technology so accessible and augmented overnight? What made people embrace skills they never had in a short span? 

Well, all those who endured the pandemic showed one common attribute,' Adaptive thinking'. 
According to psychologist and expertise researcher Anders Ericsson, Adaptive Thinking involves the ability to “recognize unexpected situations, quickly consider various possible responses, and decide on the best one.”
This attribute was showcased by every member irrespective of age, gender, caste, or creed.

 Jeff Boss mentions that there are three main characteristics of adaptive thinkers. 

1.     Adaptive Thinkers Show Impulse Control - Do you remember our parents not giving in to our demands and making us wait. Well, it brought in resilience within us. The Marshmallow test stands testimony.

2.   Adaptive thinkers leave ego at the door - One needs to unlearn to relearn and that can only happen when one embraces humility. 

3.   Adaptive thinkers are curious - Curiosity makes one question, conduct problem-solving exercise which yields results. 

So, the prevalent question is, ‘How does one build this most crucial skill in students within the school and home?

The Harvard Business Review Article, ‘Five principles to Guide Adaptive leadership’ mentions the four A’s:

v    Anticipation of likely future needs, trends and options.

v    Articulation of these needs to build collective understanding and support for action.

v    Adaptation so that there is continuous learning and the adjustment of responses as necessary.

v    Accountability, including maximum transparency in decision making processes and openness to challenges and feedback.

Modifying these principles in schools, it can be expressed that we need to design a robust curriculum which anticipates future needs and trends and that is possible only when school’s liaison with Industries through internships and Industry-teacher mentorships and reviews the latest research and developments. It regularly invests in the training of teachers and Heads to support implementation of vocational subjects, activities, events which help students hone skills and attributes. It articulates the curriculum to varied stakeholders like Management, parents, students, and experienced educators to garner constructive criticism and support. It continuously adapts its curriculum to suit the needs of the society and students as per needs and expectations and finally holds itself accountable to streamline the vision and mission of the school to achieve the goals.

At home, the parents need to follow the 3R’s in their day to day interaction with their child

1.     Restrain

2.   Resilience

3.   Reflect

Restrain – Love your child but know when to give in and when to restrain. Instant gratification is not the solution but instant ‘NO’ can help.

Resilience – Very often our love for them makes us fight all their obstacles and challenges and in return weakens them. Let them fall and offer your hand to them to get up. Let their journey be their OWN.

Reflect – Allow the children moments to realize the implications of their actions whether positive or negative at the end of the day and categorize them. Help them work on converting the pain into a learning experience for it will build within them empathy and mutual respect.  

As Yann Martel, Life of Pi says “All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.”

Together, we develop a positive mindset, adapt and overcome. 

Thanks and gratitude to Ms. Sita Murthy and IPN as the talks inspired me to write on the topic. 


1.     Jeff Boss, Three characteristics of Adaptive leaders, Forbes, Jul 1, 2015,07:15am EDT,

2.     Ben Ramalingam, David Nabarro, Arkebe Oqubay, Dame Ruth Carnall, and Leni Wild, 5 Principles to Guide Adaptive Leadership, Harvard Business Review, September 11, 2020,



Wednesday, 13 January 2021

I feel, you feel - A short story

 Priya was annoyed. She paced her living room the 50th time. Varun was supposed to be home on time after all it was their 15th wedding anniversary. It was a precious moment for them. She had been calling him but the phone was unreachable. So, where was he?

Around 11:30 pm, Varun walked in looking very happy. He had struck a huge deal and he couldn't wait to share it with Priya. His business was truly going great. As he began to talk, Priya pounced on him with harsh words and they had a huge fight. Each moved on to separate rooms extremely disillusioned. The next day, the household was silent, they spoke when required, moved about their tasks as if the previous day's fight had never happened. 

 Priya couldn't understand the human mind. It had processed that the people around her had limitations where the display of affection is concerned and still it lingered for more. It had countlessly over the years seen that birthdays and anniversaries didn't matter and it still expected. It refuses to come to terms that not everyone is sensitive or emotional and keeps begging for more and when it experiences detachment, it shatters and breaks down. 

She wanted to know how one explains to the self that it is pointless to walk in the direction where people have a varied definition of love not synchronizing with yours? How does one tell themself that only you will be burning in that fire and that the pain is not going to affect anyone else? How does one get control of their emotions when one is ready with a tear to shed on the slightest of actions? Why is it that nothing brings down the pain? 

She wishes for detachment, wishes for a stronger heart praying that she learn not to expect especially from the closest and dearest. She feels like a fool who knows that the others are not to blame but just herself. They are the way they are, so why be affected. Yet, ye dil maange more. So yes, few more days of torture and unhappiness because all this has been invited by her and her alone. 

Varun tapped his fingers restlessly on the keyboard not able to concentrate on the task in front of him. What had he done so wrong? There was a huge business opportunity and lots of money to be made. The deal going successful would only give him more occasions to pamper the family. He loved them and wished to see them happy. Every day for him was a marriage anniversary so why did Priya want only one day to be made special. If they couldn't celebrate it that day, they could on another day. There was an entire life ahead of them. She was making too much noise for one particular day and she had to understand that. Let her sulk and come to terms with herself. 

A few days later, life continued as normal. They appeared as a happy couple to all but were they really?