Since partnering with the INOVASI program, SDN Kapas Sari primary school has been taking leaps and bounds to improve the quality of education and early grade numeracy outcomes for its students. Located in Sumbawa, one of six INOVASI partner districts in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) province, SDN Kapas Sari has undergone a transformation, thanks to its participation in INOVASI’s early grade numeracy short course pilot in Cluster 2, Moyo Hilir sub-district.
Teacher enthusiasm is one of the most visible improvements, with many teachers decorating their classrooms and making learning media. Hesti Ekawati, a grade 1 teacher at SDN Kapas Sari, speaks highly of her pilot experience. Although this is her first time teaching a grade 1 class, her enthusiasm is palpable.
Using locally available materials such as cardboard, ice cream sticks and coloured paper, Hesti has created a wide range of new learning media to help students in math lessons. Using the materials, she turns the class into a spectrum of different colours, engaging the students in the learning process. She has also produced learning tools from coloured fans, layer cakes, triangular ice cream shapes, dolls made with skewers, pencils and floral pens, and colourful bottle caps.
“I deliberately created a variety of learning media shapes and patterns, so that children do not feel bored. Besides being able to recognize numbers faster, my students can also recognize colors and growth patterns – this media has a variety of functions,” explained Hesti.
Hesti originally made learning media so that her students could better understand and recognise numbers. Not all of them could memorize and understand numbers 1-10. While she had previously tried to explain using the blackboard, without any engaging learning tools, her first grade students had a number of difficulties. Now, by using things like the ice cream sticks, the students can recognise numbers while play learning.
Another learning tool Hesti developed was the ‘frame 10’. This consists of 10 waste paper frames, and a blank frame without a picture of flowers. Working individually or in pairs, students use frame 10 as a learning aid when learning numbers, place value, addition and subtraction.
Hesti explains how best to make the learning media, first forming a square cardboard pattern. Patterned coloured paper is then taped to the top – a big attraction with the young students. Finally, ice cream sticks are placed on the top with clear glue, holding everything in place.
To use the tool effectively, Hesti recommends a number of simple steps for other teachers. Students should be divided into 5 groups, and the ice cream sticks labelled 1-10. Students should then be asked to examine the picture frames – learning how to add numbers together, and lifting the right number of ice cream sticks up to answer. If the blank flower frame means a total of 10, if there are 5 flowers or frames, how many are needed to reach 10? Children take turns to answer.
In addition, Hesti also gives simple math story problems to the students to solve:
“Arya has 4 chicken eggs, then Arya’s mother gives another 2 extra eggs to Arya. How many chicken eggs does Arya have now?”
4 + 2 =. . .
Now, Hesti’s students can quickly answer by lifting ice cream sticks with the number 6. Meaning 4 + 2 = 6.
In improving teaching skills, Hesti emphasizes the importance of the principal in supporting teachers to be creative.
“Without the help and support of the principal, we teachers would not be able to improve like this,” she said.
INOVASI’s early grade numeracy short course pilot in Sumbawa not only emphasizes basic skills in counting, but also encourages teachers to develop knowledge and experience in how to teach math well. With these new skills, the quality of student learning can improve.