Happy National Santri Day! Since President Jokowi declared the 22nd October as National Santri Day, it has been an opportunity to celebrate Islamic students and education. In September 2018, INOVASI signed partnership agreements with prominent Islamic associations Maa’arif NU and Muhammadiyah. The agreements represent an exciting opportunity to broaden and sustain activities that strengthen educational quality and improve student learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy – particularly in the early grades.
Through its grant partnership with INOVASI, Ma’arif NU is piloting new ways to improve early grade literacy and numeracy outcomes in 10 partner madrasah across Sidoarjo, Pasuruan and Sumenep districts. The grant was launched in Surabaya in May 2019. Rohmawati, a partner teacher with the Ma’arif NU – INOVASI pilot, shares her experiences so far.
Rohmawati, an early grade teacher at MI Al Qodir, an Islamic primary school in Taman sub-district of Sidoarjo, enters her classroom with a sheet of colorful Styrofoam. Marked with numbers, the Styrofoam sparks the interest of her students immediately.
“Wow, what is that miss?” they shout out. Some of the more curious children stand up from their seats and run closer to the teacher’s desk.
“Can we see it? Can we hold it?”
Rohma, as the school community knows her, asks the children to sit down. She tells them that today in their math lesson they will be learning about addition operations.
She shows them the Styrofoam, which has a ladder drawn on it.
“See here children, this is a sum ladder. Start with number 1 at the bottom, and then go up to number 10 at the top of the ladder. In each step of the ladder, it means that an extra increment is added to the number below. So, the number 1 goes up to ladder 2, then the number would be 1 plus 2,” explained Rohma. The children then write the numbers together on the blackboard.
Next in the lesson, Rohma shows them a stick that can be put into the ladder.
“You can see, if there are 3 sticks, then you can stick it in the ladder 1, 2 and 3. If you add 2 more, you could put on the numbers 4 and 5. Then you may have 3 sticks plus 2 sticks – so how many is that? What is the total?” she asks the children.
“The answer is 5 miss!” the children shout together, pointing to the last stick in number 5 on the ladder.
Rohma then sits the students together in groups and distributes worksheets. While completing their worksheets, the students are able to use the numeracy ladder, to help visualise the addition operations.
For Rohma, learning tools like the ‘addition ladder’ are ideal for stimulating student interest in the learning process. Before this, Rohma explained, she used conventional methods for teaching numeracy, and would just write the addition operations on the blackboard. She would have to explain several times as the students were often confused.
Since joining the Ma’arif – INOVASI pilot, Rohma has learnt much through the Islamic school working group (KKM) activities. Held in the nearby Taman sub-district cluster in Sidoarjo, the KKM sessions provide teachers with new training material and further support from regional INOVASI facilitators.
“The difference is very noticeable. In the past I had to repeat several lessons with the addition operations, because students were still confused. I also have to give a lot of homework to students so that they can practice doing continuous addition at home, ” Rohma said.
But, after receiving the numeracy pilot training at her local KKM, Rohma has now come up with many ideas to make numeracy learning fun for her students. They have become quick to understand key concepts.
According to Rohma, the KKM activities have also been valuable because she receives direction and assistance from regional facilitators.
“Every media that we have made, we bring to KKM which is done every 2 weeks to be discussed with other teachers. We share knowledge and experience,” she explained.
MI Al Qodir Islamic school will continue to partner with INOVASI and Ma’arif in East Java, strengthening teacher skills and student learning.