Spark-India… explaining an unusual concept (By Sheel)


An interesting experiment from Hyderabad, described below…

Spark-India… explaining an unusual concept
By Sheel

Spark-India is a partnership firm started by three women with
over 50 years of teaching experience between them in Jan
2003. The Managing Partner Ms. Lakshmi Rameshwar Rao has been
a teacher for over 25 years, and has also been in the
publishing industry for over 17. Ms. Tanvir Iqbal, another
partner, is a practising speech therapist with over 20 years
experience and a special educator conducting remedial classes
for school-going children. The third partner is me, Sheel. I
have an M.Phil in English and have been a teacher variously
at college and other institutions, while participating in
teaching non-formally at school and other institutions.
Currently I am an in-house writer and editor at Spark-India;
I am also in charge of Teacher Plus.

Spark-India was launched in Feb 2003, bringing out the first
Spark BIG BOOK A Pot of Light, Spark Junior Geography and a
set of two English language teaching VCDs called The Art and
Craft of Teaching. Since then, we have published a second BIG
BOOK, Under the Bed, a second geography book titled Spark
Geography, and an Empathy Book called The Helping Hand.

Spark BIG BOOKS are lavishly illustrated large format books
(about 14 inches wide and 19 high!) for group reading. A
concept developed in New Zealand, Big Books have been used
effectively in the Reading and English Acquisition Programme
(REAP) in Singapore as well as in the Middle East.

Spark BIG BOOKS are designed to be a pre-primary and primary
teacher’s resource, a tool to teach reading and help children
acquire the English language. These are original Indian
stories that children will enjoy and can relate to. The
large, vivid illustrations help children understand and
predict the story, and in the process developing an
understanding of what comes before and after. Details of
illustration stimulate thought and discussion on indirectly
related topics, and they learn to listen, learn and express
themselves.

The stories also familiarise children with simple as well as
uncommon language structures, thereby building up language
skills. The large font familiarises them with words and helps
develop sight-reading. Some activity ideas to enhance
listening, reading and speaking skills, as well as to enhance
motor and social skills are suggested in a note to parents
and teachers at the end of the books.

A pre-reading activity that helps assess the child’s reading
readiness is also included in each. A Pot of Light (author
Sheel; illustrator Mithila Maniketh) is priced at Rs. 175,
while Under the Bed (author Usha Raman; illustrator Sarada
Natarajan) is priced at Rs. 200.

Spark Junior Geography is a resource-cum-text book for 7–9
year-olds (Classes III and IV). It presents basic concepts of
physical geography in a highly interesting manner designed to
attract and fascinate the child and spur an interest in this
oft-neglected subject. Unfolding in logical steps, it begins
by asking what geography is, and proceeds to explain why we
study the subject. It goes on to uncover for the child new
perspectives from which to view her/his everyday world, and
understand the fundamental role that geography plays in our
daily lives.

The book introduces the fundamental objects of the study of
geography – the Solar System, the Earth, climate, oceans,
etc., and goes on to familiarise children with the tools that
geographers use, including the compass, latitudes and
longitudes, maps, etc., as well as navigation with these
tools. In a unique approach to geography, the book presents
text boxes that give additional information, and easy
experiments that help children find out facts for themselves,
spurring them to learn the subject on their own. The book
also has a glossary that serves as an index too, thus helping
children learn reference skills. Spark Junior Geography is
Indo-centric in its approach, with imaginative four-colour
illustrations make geography come alive.

This book is priced at Rs. 100.

Spark Geography is the next book in this series. A
resource-cum-text book for 9-12 year-olds (Classes V and VI),
this book takes the child forward in her learning of physical
geography, exploring the Earth, the Sun and the Moon in
greater detail. Rivers and mountains, wind and water, rocks
and minerals, maps and mapping, are all explained in clear,
lucid language. Concepts that are sometimes difficult to
grasp, such as the association of longitudes with time and
the latitudes with seasons are simplified in a way easy for
the child to grasp. The detailed diagrams add to the
understanding.

As in Spark Junior Geography, informative text boxes and easy
experiments form a part of the book. This book too is
Indo-centric in its approach and has an index. It is priced
at Rs.150.

Empathy Books are the latest series that Spark-India has
thought up. This series is meant to develop an attitude of
understanding and acceptance of differences of various kinds
– from disability to adoption to social values to race and
culture… the list can go on. The Helping Hand is the first of
the series. Aimed at ages eight and above, it tells the story
of a girl Komal growing up with a sibling who is different
and needs to go to special school. The story tells us how
Komal and her brother Tarun grow up, each learning at her/his
own pace.

The Art and Craft of Teaching is a set of two VCDs
for English language teaching and trainers at the
preparatory and lower primary level. This unusual
teacher resource demonstrates several teaching
techniques with the help of real classroom
simulations and helps provoke discussions amongst
teachers, educationists and school managements
towards discovering and creating more innovative
methods of imparting effective language skills.

Progressive steps in learning English are presented as
audio-visual modules covering the four language skills –
listening, speaking, reading and writing. Comprising fifteen
real classroom simulations in all, the VCDs incorporate
proven strategies and techniques to help children listen,
learn and express themselves fluently, accurately and
appropriately. They also include guidelines to stimulate the
development of concepts that encourage children to think and
work on problems. They also stimulate thought and discussion
among peers about distinctive strategies and techniques to
meet specific needs in the classroom.

The seven modules on The Art and Craft of Teaching
(Preparatory level) are: Story telling Speech practice
Talking about pictures Sequenced pictures Pattern writing
Letters and sounds How things feel.

On The Art and Craft of Teaching Part II (Lower primary
level, i.e., classes I and II ) the modules are as below:

Word order games
Action words
Conversation skills
Following verbal instructions
Reading proficiency
Dictionary skills
Sequencing
Poetry writing

The Art and Craft of Teaching is playable on a PC with
Windows 2000 and Windows Media player. Each VCD is priced at
Rs.250.

We also conduct workshops for teachers.

Besides these, under the imprint OtherWise Books, we have
also brought out alternative literature: the gay poet Dr.
Hoshang Merchant’s latest volume of poetry Bellagio Blues.

Spark-India is currently working on several other projects,
including a history of early civilisations.

CONTACT, FOR MORE DETAILS:

teacherplus01 at yahoo.co.in
spark_india at rediffmail.com

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One thought on “Spark-India… explaining an unusual concept (By Sheel)

  1. I am srilakshmi teaching for under privileged children in hyderabad and i came to know about spark India and a’m interested in knowing more about your institute. please can u give me your website and latest updates

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