Monday, December 26, 2011

Pratham Books Champions : Neha Sahu, Darshana Bhogale and Pukhraj Ranjan

As the International Year of the Forest draws to a close, we are running the 'Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow' campaign. We asked our AWESOME community if they would be volunteer to become a Pratham Books Champion and conduct storytelling sessions based on the book "A King Cobra's Summer'. And again, our friends volunteered eagerly. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.

I had asked Fiona Vaz, a Teach for India Fellow, if she would be interested in conducting a storytelling session. Previously, Fiona has shared lovely posts on her teaching experiences on our blog and I was very happy when Fiona agreed to conduct the session. But, the other day I got a wonderful surprise. Fiona sent in three stories about the sessions conducted by three lovely women! Thanks for coordinating these sessions Fiona. 

Today's stories comes from Neha Sahu, Darshana Bhogale and Pukhraj Ranjan. It is lovely to see how one book can be used in so many different ways!

1. Neha Sahu


Neha Sahu is a Fellow with Teach For India. She teaches class three kids in the Shindewadi Mumbai Public School, a government school that is run by the Akanksha Foundation as part of its School Project. When Neha heard of Pratham’s Story Telling Champion’s initiative, she was thrilled that her 47 kids were having an opportunity to do something new and exciting.

On Saturday, 17 December, the students gathered for a regular English class but there was a flurry of excitement when the banner was put up in class and the book was taken out. As the eagerness increased, expectations were set and the story began.

Neha began asking her 47 third graders what a cover page, back page, title, author and illustrator meant. The kids answered in a hurry so as to reach the story reading part as quickly as possible. The students gathered that the book was about a snake and what he did in the summer season. Neha read the story slowly and stopped occasionally to ask questions. There were peals of laughter when the students discovered that Kala’s friend’s name was the same as a student’s mother’s name! They learnt some new words like ‘glossy’, ‘famished’ ‘serpent’ and ‘shedding’- a word that they will use even more now that there is a chill in the air and their skin is changing- just like Kala’s!


(Neha Sahu is currently a Fellow from the 2010 cohort at Teach For India. She serves as the 3rd grade class teacher at Shindewadi Mumbai Public School. She teaches all subjects, but Literacy (English) is her primary focus this academic year. She pursues academic, social and emotional competency for all her 47 kids, at par with any other child their age in the world. Together, Neha and her kids believe in dreaming larger than life and giving it their very best to do whatever they choose to do. Neha joined Teach For India right after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology and a minor in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. Neha is passionate about global music, authentic cuisines and adventure travel. She is a strong proponent of change, nevertheless she is confident that her love for children is one thing that has and will remain constant all her life.)

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2.  Darshana Bhogale

Darshana Bhogale is a teacher who is known for her calm demeanor and her immense patience with her kids. Primarily a Mathematics teacher, Darshana can take on any subject with the sole aim of making the subject come alive for her students. Reading the book A King Cobra’s Summer was one more chance to make a book come alive.


Darshana began by reading the book to her 31 first graders and then realized the need to paraphrase it for her little ones. Once the book was read, Darshana asked the kids a few questions which the children answered with much enthusiasm. But the excitement shot up when they had to volunteer to act out parts of the book. Darshana wrapped a student in a blanket and slowly pulled it out to explain what Kala did. Students scampered around for a turn to play the different characters in the story.


As the session ended, the students asked Darshana to read the book once again.


(Darshana Bhogale is working as teacher at Akanksha since 7years and would like to continue many years ahead. She is currently working at Shindewadi MPS as Grade 1 teacher. She has a specialization in computers networking and a Masters in Animation and Multimedia. She likes to teach lower level grades, hence she always taught first grade since she joined. She had taught computers in her earlier years with Akanksha. Mathematics is her passion and she always tries to innovate and search new methods and tricks to teach her students. She learns using practical methods so she creates many opportunities for kids to learn through hands on and by doing.)

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3. Pukhraj Ranjan

Pukhraj Ranjan teaches 40 Fifth Graders in Shindewadi Mumbai Public School, a government school that is a part of The Akanksha Foundation’s School Project. A strong believer of promoting the love for reading and imagination among children she saw this as an opportunity to expose her children to a new experience.

Before Pukhraj could begin reading the story she handed out stick puppets of the characters in the story to her kids. All the kids had to do was flash the puppets to the class when the character that they were allotted made an appearance in the story. The class has never been so silent and as interested in anything as they were in the story today. The kids waited for their turn to wave the puppets. As Pukhraj read the story, the students began to fill in the lines and ask questions.

Once the story was read, the students were divided in groups to create a short presentation on one character in the story. The children made colourful posters on the characters. Pukhraj strongly believes that in order to make kids understand reading for pleasure, caring adults need to model it for them through various means. Reading of the book and the activities were just some of them!



(Pukhraj Ranjan is currently the class teacher of 5th grade at the Shindewadi Mumbai Public School, a government school working in partnership with the Akanksha Foundation. She is a fellow with the Teach For India Program and is pursuing her second year educating forty students across subjects like Math, English, Social Studies and Science. She is a recent graduate from the Symbiosis Centre for Management Studies, Pune and holds a degree in Business Administration. Pukhraj loves kids, traveling and meeting new people and firmly believes that every child has the potential to shine if given the right opportunity and guidance)

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 It is lovely to see how one book can be used in so many different ways! Thank you Neha, Darshana  and Pukhraj for spreading the joy of reading!

Click here to read the stories sent in by all the Pratham Books Champions.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

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