DAIS “3L – Leisure Learning in Lockdown” Collaboration
Posted: 18 November 2020
Art Education, Physical Education, Music and Dance, Skill building, Social and Health wellbeing
- Communication skills
- Appreciation for diversity
- Sense of responsibilbity
- Commitment to sustainability
Amidst the COVID-19 lock-down, the Dhirubhai Ambani International School hosted a student-led collaboration of online activities every week with other schools in the South Asia and Gulf Region. Around 120 students from 14 Round Square schools participated in four weeks of interesting, engaging and productive online sessions. Comprising of art and craft, dance, fitness, singing, and cookery, these activities are created to be as enjoyable and interactive as possible to traverse the boundaries of lock down.
The Beginning: The initiative originally started with the Earth Day activities which we celebrate every year with an entire week of creating awareness about the environment and the need for conservation.
We didn’t let lock-down deter our spirit of Environmentalism and launched an ‘all school week long online program’, with activities for awareness building leading to action orientation, integrating the need to Recycle and Upcycle through Art & Craft, Quiz and other competitions. The program received an overwhelming response from our students, Heads as well as parents.
Empowered with the first hand experience of conducting online sessions, the students of grade 10, under the guidance of the Round Square Reps, worked to build a bank of engaging activities aimed at helping all those who were feeling constrained by the lock-down.
Peer Teaching: The school decided that these activities would help our Middle School students as well and so began the journey of fun filled sessions conducted by Senior school student volunteers for the Middle school students, to keep them productively engaged in online teaching sessions. These sessions were aimed at providing respite from constant staring at the screen, instead engaging students in skill building activities like Art & Craft, Singing, Dancing, Fitness and Debate.
The Response: The outcome of the Peer Teaching was that the participating students as well as those conducting the sessions felt that these activities provided a cathartic outlet and helped reduce the stress of the lock down. Encouraged by the great response, our student team and their RS Reps (hereby called ‘The Team’) decided to share their experience and initiative with students outside their school and expanded the initiative to a regional level. The aim here was to reach out and interact with other students of a similar age group and try to spread joy and happiness amongst them during these trying times.
The Activities: The activities initiated for ‘3L – Leisure Learning during Lockdown’ were; Let’s Get Dancing, Culinary Crew, Fun with Fitness, Soulful Singing and Artists in Action. These activities were chosen due to their potential appeal among teenagers, the opportunity for participants to learn something new or to experience a feel of adventure. It was thought that these activities would also allow the participants to express themselves in a creative and positive manner even while they’re quarantined at home.
The Process: The collaboration was announced through creative videos and poster campaigns posted on the Regional Reps group as well as through emails and the Round Square Weekly. The Team received a great response from schools within our region.
Communication: Promotional materials such as Posters, Videos, Emails etc were shared with the South Asia & Gulf Region. Details of the program, activity options and selection forms as well as waivers were sent as response to all through email. All Activity leaders maintained constant contact with the participants through emails and messages throughout the week, creating excitement for the planned event and a two-way communication was encouraged with constant feedback in order to upgrade the sessions.
The Team: The students volunteers who would run the program were decided through unanimous voting during the planning process. The lead volunteers had the core skills related to the activity and engaged more volunteers to help out in the planning, coordination and execution of the Online sessions. The lead volunteer then worked with their groups to plan the activities, discuss the flow of events during sessions, conducted demo sessions, did mock calls etc to ensure that the final session would be seamless and engaging for all participants. The lead volunteer was responsible to provide the feedback to The Team as well as the reporting team.
The Team assigned a group of students who would ensure the following: Data Collation of participating, schools/students, activity selections, feedback circulation, writing the minutes of each meeting and maintaining a data drive of all information. They would also manage the recording of the sessions, taking photos and ensure that the activity leaders submitted reports of each session.
There were five activities as opportunities of skill building in the 3L initiative. Every activity was assigned as an individual Team on Microsoft virtual platform. The Coordination Committee ensured that every activity had a manageable size of students (not exceeding 15 students). The number was arrived at after keeping in mind the constraints of the virtual platform. In case an activity had more participants then sub-groups were formed with new lead (well trained) volunteers with inputs from the Core Leaders, thus creating a second line of command and giving leadership opportunity to many more students. The material planning for each session, sending the list to the participating students and responding to any queries related to the sessions was a job undertaken by the Coordination Committee.
Artists in Action: The art sessions started off with interactive, fun icebreakers consisting of simple questions such as “What art supply would you be?” Or “what’s your favourite medium of art?”
During week one, students learnt how to create intricate origami butterflies as well as unique newspaper art during a 45-50 minute session. Other sessions included making origami hopping frog, corner bookmarks, zentangling, and blind – portrait drawing. The sessions were kept lively and interactive by invoking art-related as well as general conversation such as current events, favourite movies and much more. Each session ended with a brief feedback session as well as a display of the works of the previous classes. With the increase in response to the activity every week the ‘Artists in Action’ activity was divided into three sub teams.
The pictures of Art and craft activities shared by the participants during every successive session proved their engagement in the activity beyond the one hour session as they completed the tasks and shared the final product during the next session.
Let’s Get Dancing: The Let’s Get Dancing sessions included icebreakers, multiple choreography, music and lots of fun interaction. Each session began with some basic stretching and warm-ups and then moved into different choreography. The team attempted to include different styles and songs in the sessions throughout the four weeks to ensure that the participants had a fun but wholesome learning experience. The styles of dance included; Contemporary, Bollywood, Hip Hop and Choreography with the use of a prop. The songs chosen for the sessions included – Bekhayali, Madhubala, Jai Jai Shiv Shankar, Ghungroo and I Don’t Care. Every session ended with some feedback which helped the team incorporate the changes, incorporate the choice of participants’ style and cater to their song requests.
As a special surprise and a memory of the sessions, the team created a short video of the clippings of their participants dancing to a popular Bollywood song – ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’. The participants shared their experience of improving on their skills of Dancing, considering that some of them were trying this for the very first time.
Soulful Singing: The singing sessions started off with some fun and informative ice breakers such as “Sing your favourite song” or “What is your song of the week?” This not only allowed the participants to bond over their interest in music but it also gave them a chance to expand their taste. Warm-ups before the start of a day’s session consisted of scales as well as Hindi vocal exercises. Week One started off with the song “A Million Dreams” sung by the cast of “The Greatest Showman”. The volunteers would sing one line at a time, repeat the same several times and patiently assist every participant to perfect the tune and harmony of the sound until the end of the chorus, allowing for sufficient time in order to take the song at a slow yet smooth pace. The coming three weeks included songs such as – “Raabta”, “Kal Ho Na Ho” and the famous song “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran.
At the end of the four weeks we organised a Musical Performance where the participants came prepared with a song of their choice and presented it to the Team. The last session ended on a beautiful note with performances to the songs such as Despacito and Ayaat as well a heartfelt feedback session.
Fun with Fitness: The fitness sessions got going with basic ice breakers where the students introduced themselves in a distinctive manner by sharing information about their favourite sportsperson and what they were looking forward to achieving in the four week program set for them. This helped the Fitness team plan each of their sessions by incorporating the feedback received from their participants. In week one, the students began the session with a 10 minute warm up. This was followed by a 50 minute full body workout where the students performed high impact drills exerting their muscles as well as the strenuous activities. In the following weeks, similar programmes were planned for the students where they focused on abdominals, triceps, biceps and legs. Every session was conducted in an interactive manner using conversation, games and fun competitions during sessions. All the sessions were lively, engaging, interesting and each session was followed by a quick discussion for feedback on the activity completed.
During week 4, where the students played a round of “Spin the Wheel” where the wheel had activities linked with animal movement such as gorilla walk, donkey kick and spider crawl which the participants enjoyed performing. It was a fun fitness activity at the end of the session.
Culinary Crew: The culinary crew sessions were aimed at teaching the students how to make simple yet delicious recipes. The sessions began with enjoyable interactive discussions on students’ favourite dishes and cuisines. Additionally, the DAIS cookery volunteers gave participants a quick brief on the most basic ingredients, skills and tools used while cooking. This was essential to ensure the safety of participants as the recipes used did not require any cutting or the use of electrical appliances. If there was a recipe that required use of an oven then an adult was required to be around to help in the uses of the oven. In week one, the students made a homemade chocolate and vanilla ice cream along with a mouth-watering egg-less chocolate cake in a mug. In week two, they made a scrumptious chilli cheese toast along with garlic bread and shortbread cookies. In week three, the students had a cheese and chocolate burst by making a chocolate milkshake, mac and cheese and cookie dough.
The highlight of the participating students’ cooking experience was in week four where they made a ten ingredient pizza from scratch using a two ingredient base and a 6 ingredient sauce; along with toppings of choice.
At the end of the last session a Feedback form was shared as a link with all the participants to receive response on the initiative, scope for upgrading of events in future execution and to understand the scope of achievement of learning objectives of this initiative.
Certificates of participation was designed and sent out in the form of a link to the Round Square Representatives of the respective schools. These were awarded to all participants who had successfully engaged in at least three fourths of the sessions conducted.
Our main challenge was to conduct the activities on an online platform and manage to engage participants actively through the sessions. We had to work around many issues like connectivity issues, voice drops, video freezing etc making it difficult for participants in understanding certain procedures and instructions. This was tackled by having different volunteers assigned for different aspects of the activity. Additionally the chat box tool and raise hand feature on the online platform allowed volunteers to give attention to each and every student with a doubt or query.
Secondly, participating students were meeting each other on an online platform for the first time without prior interaction, which posed an issue as they were shy and slightly uncomfortable. This was effectively tackled by playing some games and icebreakers at the start of each session, and maintaining general conversation during the session helped students get familiar with each other.
Thirdly, monitoring the entry of participants on an online platform was also an obstacle, as it was important to make sure that only those people who had enrolled were admitted into meeting rooms. Maintaining a good documentation process, and giving students instructions on how to login and enter the online platform helped the volunteers in monitoring the sessions.
Furthermore, as the number of participants changed each week, logistical provisions for the same were also essential to be made. The team approached this difficulty by assigning work to different volunteers based on their strengths, as well as having a good documentation and organising format in place. Moreover, as a large number of participants signed up for the event it was important that there be an organising team capable of withstanding its audience. The DAIS team kept recruiting new volunteers who helped balance out this difficulty. In the initiative, the core team was significantly smaller than the students signing up, which proved challenging at times, and was tackled by splitting the work to volunteers and having a structured plan.
This collaboration allowed students to explore new activities and learn new skills – singing, art, cookery, fitness and dance.This was nothing short of an adventure for all of us! It was a wonderful opportunity for us to develop the ‘21st century’ skills such as teamwork, research, problem-solving and communication skills. The inputs from every member of the Coordination Committee helped redefine Leadership as working towards a shared goal by building team spirit.
It helped to keep students engaged, upbeat, and positive during the on-going, and rather terrifying, global pandemic and provided a platform to ‘Meet and Connect’ virtually and interact with each other, while living in different cities and while maintaining social distancing. Students were able to build trust and confidence whilst interacting with others they met through the online sessions and experienced the comfort to perform in front of an audience. Students exchanged ideas and broadened their perspectives through discussions on the current global situation helping them become better global citizens.
DAIS will certainly run the activity with the same goals. However we are open to trying out innovative forms and platforms of interactions.
- Decide the objective or a purpose of organizing an event. This will provide the focus for the planning and organising the activities / sessions
- Delegate responsibilities to the team members by using their individual strengths as well as their collaborative skills and always have a support team ready with members to fall back on in case of emergencies.
- Prepare your executing team members along with your support team members using simulations, mock sessions and feedback and improvising exercises.
- Organize all your data in one common place that is accessible to everyone who is a core member in organising this event.
- Have a one point contact for all final decisions to be taken.
- Decide on the methods of communication to be used and the frequency of sending out communication to your target audience or participants. Build a lasting relationship by having a channel of open communication between the two parties concerned.
- Always expect the unexpected and have an alternative plan ready for all contingencies for activities planned.
Author: Manisha Nanda, Round Square Rep, Dhirubhai Ambani International School