New learning methods help improve student motivation in Sumbawa classrooms

In Sumbawa, one of INOVASI’s six partner districts in NTB, teachers and principals have been engaged in a pilot that aims to develop their capacity and quality of teaching and learning. Using a ‘local solutions to local problems’ approach, the Guru BAIK pilot (BAIK meaning Learning, Aspirational, Inclusive, and Contextual) is now underway, supporting teachers to develop and test solutions to learning problems they face in the classroom. By upskilling teachers and helping to improve student basic skills in literacy and numeracy, we can better strengthen Indonesia’s human resource base into the future.    

During a Guru BAIK pilot workshop held earlier this month at Cirebon Sumbawa Hotel, a group of primary school teachers came together to share common challenges and issues around teaching mathematics to their early grade students. Speaking openly, they explained that maths was a less attractive subject to younger students. Added to this, teachers lack the ability to design learning strategies around core numeracy competencies.

Using an example from a third grade student worksheet with incorrect answers, the local workshop facilitator asked participants to explore the cause of children’s learning difficulties. A key issue affecting student learning in maths could be directly linked back to poor quality teaching. Teachers feel unable to explain and teach core numeracy concepts, meaning that students are unable to systematically and methodically problem solve and answer basic questions – including basic equations. Teachers also feel ill-equipped to create interesting and engaging learning media for their students, not sure how to leverage existing resources and local environment to their advantage.

In primary school 3 Lape however, a Guru BAIK pilot partner school, a different story is unfolding. With stronger teaching, learning has become more effective.

Hadiahtollah, an early grade teacher at 3 Lape, shared her knowledge and experiences at the recent workshop. She explained the new method she developed to teach maths more effectively in the classroom, increasing student motivation in the process. Called the ‘Number Hook’, the approach is a learning tool made by simple and available materials such as used compact discs (CDs), glue, scissors, paper, gold lace, thumbtacks, wool yarn and hair clips.

According to Hadiahtollah, who is also a local facilitator for Guru BAIK in Lape subdistrict, Number Hook is designed to make it easier for children to determine the location of numbers (units, tens, hundreds) and the name of numbers. The tool is made as attractive as possible so that it captures the attention of early grade students.

The learning tool is first prepared with a plywood board covered with coloured carpet. The edges are decorated with gold lace to make it more attractive. At the top of the board is attached the words “VALUE and NAME OF NUMBERS” as the title.

A thumbtack is then plugged horizontally with the same distance while the CDs are decorated with numbers written from 0 to 9. The CDs are then hung using a wooden thread clamped with a hairpin on the thumbtack. Above each nail, the words “VALUE” are written.

The first nail from the right above is the “UNIT”, the second nail is “TENS”, the third nail is “HUNDREDS”, the fourth nail is “THOUSANDS” and so on. At the bottom of the board, the words “THE NAME OF THE NUMBERS ARE…” is written and a blank paper is placed underneath so that students can write the name of the number.

By using this learning tool, students can more easily determine the value of numbers. For example, Hadiahtollah asked students to name the value of 7,869. The student could easily put the number according to the value; 9 is placed below UNIT, 6 in TENS, 8 in HUNDREDS, and the number 7 placed in THOUSANDS.

“This learning media is a method of learning while playing. This method is not only used in the classroom but can also be used outside the classroom or anywhere,” she explained.

3 Lape primary school is also an inclusive school. The number of identified children with special needs totals 94, including students with hearing difficulties.

In addition to Number Hook, Hadiahtollah has also developed a method for calculating addition and subtraction for students with special needs, especially for deaf children. This method is called “GEMA” (Slide Numbers Forward and Backward).

To use GEMA effectively, a number of teaching aids have been set up in the classroom such as media boards, curtain hangers and a number of CDs containing numbers. For addition, the students should slide the number forward, while for subtraction they slide the number backwards.

For example, when doing addition, students are asked to choose two CDs that have numbers written on them, from 1 to 100.  If the number chosen is 2 and 6, then the two numbers are hung on the media board. To determine the sum of both numbers, students are asked to move the numbers forward. Starting with number 2, they then move forward 6 times so that the result will be 8. The same thing applies when calculating subtraction.

Haidahtollah’s simple learning tool shows that local innovation and strengthened teaching knowledge and skills go a long way to improve the basics of numeracy and literacy in the classroom. Guru BAIK will continue to work with teachers over the coming months in Sumbawa.

New learning methods help improve student motivation in Sumbawa classrooms