Local nature-based learning in Chennai's Corporation schools

Palluyir Trust works in nature-education and advocacy in Chennai/Tamil Nadu. We have made a large amount of material and curricula for the biodiversity, landscape, waterscape and socio-politics of this region. Our education pedagogy we call ‘Action Pedagogy’ which seeks to bring out the long-term action-taker/change-maker in the learner.

Palluyir (palluyirtrust.org)

Currently, through Rainmatter’s Support, we are implementing a local nature-based learning programme in 5 Corporation schools - using nearby public parks and their school campuses as living learning spaces. And we are also closely studying the impact such a programme has on children - including their curiosity, critical thinking, independence, interpersonal skills, mental health and independence - with the help of Nature Classrooms. We have just completed our first term of this programme and the report is attached here. We’ve also conducted a preliminary teacher training workshop for teachers from 45 GCC schools on nature-education.

Palluyir GCC programme 2023 1st term.pdf (713.0 KB)

We are also making a Climate, Biodiversity and People curriculum (focusing on all Earth system boundaries rather than climate alone) for the Chennai/Tamil Nadu region based on the action pedagogy, along with a range of other activity sheets, field guides and other materials.

While the response from students has been great and welcoming in the schools we work with, we are facing some unique challenges which include - schools being packed with other events/activities, teachers not being available or interested, some students being disruptive especially in schools in difficult locations. We also receive a lot of requests seeking help with running programmes/training teachers across India - and we haven’t found a way to reach out and help all these requests

We are shortly releasing a newsletter called ‘Notes from a Nature Educator’ - which will have anecdotes, readings and actionable ideas for educators to emplace learning in local nature - written by Yuvan Aves. We hope to successfully complete our programme with Greater Chennai Corporation, share results with education authorities, move closer towards making local nature based learning a policy intervention in Chennai/TN while also beginning a teacher training programme for GCC teachers. We hope to also complete 4 - 5 more modules of our Climate, Biodiversity and People Curriculum.


Thanks, Yuvan!
@Deepa @SlamOutLoud @Vishnudas @Mahab5 if relevant/of interest

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Hello friends - we’ve started a monthly newsletter/blog called ‘Notes from a Nature Educator’ on the Palluyir website. It will have anecdotes, ideas, searchings, findings, readings - towards actionable ways for anybody to facilitate nature based learning.

The first piece is ‘Are trees rearing our children?’ - on the developmental and socio-political importance of making vegetation and living habitats as children’s prime learning spaces.

Feedback/comments are most welcome. Incase you’d like to subscribe to receive the newsletter on email you can do so at the end of the page. Thank you!

Hello everybody -

Over this month - with the monsoon at its peak - we have been exploring sounds of local birds and frogs at Chennai Corporation schools. Listening to them, practicing ways of describing and recalling with a series of adjectives and similes, and then playing different forms of quiz games to identify the sounds we’ve learnt. For bird calls we’ve used Ebird and for Frog calls we’ve used our own recordings as well as Mandookavani. The response and interest from children has been very fulfilling, given that the modules are opening up a new world to them. For each sound and species we also go with stories. The challenge has been language skills in students especially from North Chennai, but we’re also seeing it improve. Soundscape is a great way to connect nature and foundational literacy/language skills too and we are working on compiling these lesson plans.

Taking language and nature forward we’ve done sessions for Abacus montessori - 3 at the Chennai Museum’s zoology section and 2 at the school farm exploring ‘spiders and descriptive writing’.

We’ve made a field guide for Chennai’s wildflowers and a poster for Mantises we’ve been documenting too.

Common Mantises of Chennai.pdf (3.9 MB)