ELI Practitioner Briefs

You will find useful practitioner briefs and publications that are ready for download here. Handouts are brief pieces on different topics that have been produced by the ELI team members, or their collaborators. They are meant for wide dissemination. The material can be downloaded, circulated and modified, as long as the users follow Open Source citation guidelines, and (a) mention author names/ELI initiative; (b) provide a link the Creative Commons license, and (c) indicate if changes were made. 

Publications by ELI members will also be made available here.

ELI Practitioner Brief 21: Using Folklore in Early Language Classrooms

Sameeksha M and Shailaja Menon highlight the potential of using folklore in the early language and literacy classroom in this brief. Sameeksha explored this possibility in her field internship project for her Master's in Education programme, working under the guidance of Shailaja Menon. She worked for six weeks with 15 first- to third-grade students in a Nali-Kali classroom in Yadgir, Karnataka. This brief presents her key learnings with the use of folklore in the early language classroom. It summarises key pedagogical principles that informed her planning, and gives us glimpses and interesting insights on how the ideas played out in the classroom. It also presents recommendations for using folklore that teachers could adapt in their own early language and literacy classrooms.

ELI_Practitioner Brief 21_Folklore in the Classroom

ELI Practitioner Brief 20: Asking Good Questions to Support Meaning-making

ELI has previously discussed comprehension strategies in its briefs and blog pieces. In this practitioner brief, Shuchi Sinha discusses how to use questioning as a meaning-making tool in the classroom: to model extensively for students, as well as use it in collaborative practice with them. The brief discusses Question-Answer Relationship (QAR), a widely used questioning framework to help practitioners understand and categorise the diverse types of questions that can be used to support comprehension in the classroom. Suggestions for a range of activities are provided, which can be used by teachers to effectively introduce questioning as a comprehension strategy in classroom.   

ELI_Practitioner_Brief 20_Asking Good Questions

ELI Practitioner Brief 19: Interpreting and Responding to Literature in Elementary Classrooms: A Teacher Research

In this brief, authors Sreya Rakshit and Shailaja Menon write about how to support children to interpret and respond to various genres of literature by using multiple modalities in the classroom. Encouraging young children to respond to and interpret literature that they have read or have been read to, helps them think more deeply about the texts.  The brief is an outcome of Sreya's research study conducted  at Vikramshila Education Society, Kolkata, under the guidance of Prof. Menon, to understand the role of children’s literature in early grade classrooms.

ELI_Practitioner_Brief_19_Interpreting and Responding to Literature

ELI Practitioner Brief 18: Using Mother Tongue to Facilitate English Language Learning in Low Exposure Settings. 

English is generally taught in Indian contexts through “English-only” classroom formats or through direct translation of the English chapters into the local language. Understanding the limitations of such pedagogies for most schools in the country, which are low-exposure settings where English is a foreign and alien language, Riya Parikh, an alumna of Azim Premji University, set out to conduct a research study with the aim to understand the potential of using a multilingual pedagogy that includes the mother tongue as a medium of instruction to support English language learning. This brief is authored by Riya and her research mentor Dr. Shailaja Menon, where they share the pedagogical principles that helped build a 6 week MLE intervention program in a Marathi medium government school, in Wada, Maharashtra. Key learnings from Riya’s experience, are presented as recommendations that could be adapted for effective teaching of English in similar, low English exposure primary classroom settings. 

ELI Practitioner Brief 18_Using MT to Support English Language

ELI Practitioner Brief 17: Setting up a Classroom Library to Support Early Language and Literacy.

The merits of children being surrounded by and engaging with good quality literature, and how that could bolster their language and literacy development cannot be more foregrounded. This practitioner brief, marking this understanding as the foundation, sets out to assist teachers and educators by providing practical ideas to set up a classroom library. Harshita V. Das takes you through the nuances involved in envisioning a classroom library as a valuable resource in the language classroom. Key aspects such as the children, the collection, the nature of interactions, and the logistics of how to ‘run’ your own library space within the classroom, are touched upon thereby giving you a peek into the many considerations that should be borne in mind while setting up a library space that is exclusive to a class and a group of children. We hope you find this to be a useful resource.

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ELI Practitioner Brief 16: Emergent Literacy

When do children begin to become literate? The emergent literacy perspective suggests that with adequate exposure to print, children could start picking up cues to read and write from birth. How can this be? In this brief, Shuchi Sinha, Akhila Pydah and Shailaja Menon, explain what the emergent literacy perspective actually is. Ideas of print awareness, emergent reading and emergent writing are explained in detail, and suggestions of many activities are provided which can be used to support emergent literacy in classrooms.

ELI_Practitioner Brief 16_Emergent Literacy

ELI Practitioner Brief 15: Teaching Comprehension Strategies, Part II: Conducting a Think Aloud

This brief is Part II of ELI's two-part series on teaching comprehension strategies. In this brief, Akhila Pydah discusses think alouds, as a method for modelling comprehension strategies for students. In a think aloud, the teacher tries to make her thinking “visible” to students by sharing her meaning-making process as she reads. Using an example, Akhila describes in detail how a think aloud can be planned and implemented in classrooms. 

ELI_Practitioner_Brief 15_Conducting A Think Aloud

ELI Practitioner Brief 14: Teaching Comprehension Strategies, Part I: Introduction and Overview

ELI has put together two practitioner briefs on teaching comprehension strategies. This is Part I  of the series, where Shuchi Sinha provides an introduction and overview of how comprehension strategies can be used in classrooms to strengthen meaning-making. After a brief explanation of the theory, she describes four important comprehension strategies, and provides activities that teachers can use or adapt in classrooms. She concludes this brief with a table of suggested book titles which can be used by teachers in the Indian context to teach various comprehension strategies.

ELI_Practitioner_Brief 14_Teaching Comprehension Strategies_Part I

ELI Practitioner Brief 13: Readers’ Theatre in the Classroom

In this practitioner brief, Akhila Pydah explains what a Readers’ Theatre is and highlights its many benefits for language and literacy learning. Not only does readers’ theatre give a powerful reason for practising reading, but it also provides a meaningful avenue for children to respond to literature through multiple modalities. Read on to find out some useful suggestions and steps Akhila shares for using readers’ theatre in your classrooms. Do let us know what you think and how this works for you! 

ELI Practitioners Brief 13_Readers' Theatre in Classroom

ELI Practitioner Brief 12: Comprehensive Literacy Instruction Model in Indian Classrooms. 

Have you ever wondered why we seem to hear the word ‘Balance’ often in the context of teaching children reading and writing? What is this Balanced approach all about? Do we have a fairly good understanding of what this means and what this would mean for practice? While it could be that we understand what the word balance stands for as an approach to literacy instruction, how do we practice it? How do we ensure we bring in all key elements of literacy instruction to the fore as we enter the classroom? How are we to negotiate our way through a rigid time table set by the school so we give enough time for literacy instruction and allied activities? 

This brief brought to you by Shailaja Menon and Harshita Das, is one such attempt at bringing it all together such that we get a deeper understanding of how to go about planning for literacy instruction through the Balanced Approach. They take you through the nuances of a Comprehensive or Balanced approach. They offer a number of examples from the field and even present ideas to make literacy instruction more balanced and comprehensive such that, not only will you feel better equipped, but also more confident in trying the comprehensive approach in your own classroom. 


ELI Practitioner Brief 11: Supporting Children's Writing in Early Grades

In this brief, Shuchi Sinha and Shailaja Menon take us through the many nuances involved in teaching children how to write. They attempt to go beyond what is focussed in most Indian classrooms - focussing on learning the aksharas and letters by rote where children ‘learn’ to write without clearly ever understanding the purpose behind such practices. 

How can we help children see that writing can be a useful and interesting way to express themselves and communicate ideas to others? Does writing necessarily have to wait until the child has mastered all the aksharas, and mastered a set of words, before moving on to learning how to write full sentences and then paragraphs, before moving on to writing meaningfully and purposefully? What could be the role of talk and drawing in supporting writing? Find well thought through answers and ideas emerging from these questions and much more in this brief!

Supporting Children's Writing in Early Grades_Practitioner Brief_11

ELI Practitioner Brief 10: Building Vocabulary in the Early Grades

How do children learn new words? What is the best possible way of teaching vocabulary to children in our classrooms? When can we say or know that a child knows a word? In this practitioner brief, "Building Vocabulary in Early Grades", Akhila Pydah attempts to provide possible answers to these questions and more. Akhila provides very useful suggestions based on key principles for teaching vocabulary in the classroom. Also, suggested are some activities that you could adapt for your own classroom settings. Read on to find out for yourselves and do let us know what you think! 

ELI_Practitioner Brief_10_Building Vocabulary In Early Grades

ELI Practitioner Brief 9: Reading Aloud with Young Children

Reading aloud to children is an important aspect of every literacy and language classroom practice. There might be times when you may wonder as to how one should go about doing a read aloud, what kind of book to choose, how to make a read aloud most effective and how to go about planning for the same. This brief, “Reading Aloud with Young Children” written by Akhila Pydah, takes you through different aspects of a Read aloud and how you could go about planning for a session. We hope that as you look through this brief, you will be better equipped to read aloud to your children and make your classroom experiences more effective and joyful, both at the same time.  

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ELI Practitioner Brief 8: Creating a Print-Rich Environment in the Class

What is the correlation between exposure to print and learning to read and write? How do we support  this in the classroom? What do we mean by “Print Rich Classrooms”? There might be more questions that practitioners across, would have. Akhila Pydah, answers some of these questions and gives us insights and useful tips to use in the classroom through this comprehensive brief, “Creating a Print Rich Environment in the Classroom”. Read on to find out more on how you could make your classroom an exemplary setting to support your children in their journey as they learn to be good readers and writers. 

ELI_Practioner_Brief_8_Print-rich Environment in Classroom

ELI Practitioner Brief 7: Children's Writing : Creating Books in the Classroom

What are the approaches one needs to take as a teacher to ensure that her/his students begin to write from a very early stage? How does she/he motivate a learner to consider writing as relevant and meaningful? How do we tap into children’s creativity and imagination and the need to express, to support their writing? This handout, written by Akhila Pydah, takes you through a writing programme where children are given authentic and exciting means to write by creating their own books! We can learn from a number of examples and strategies that Akhila has presented in this handout and adapt the same for our classrooms. So what are we waiting for, time to dive right in! 


ELI Practitioner Brief 6: Learning the Script

Have you ever wondered, why is it so hard for our children to learn to read despite spending three to four years in formal classrooms? Even though many hours are spent on teaching the script, the Varnamala, the individual Aksharas and the constant, consistent practice of words beginning with each of those aksharas, children still seem to struggle! What could be the reasons behind this? What do we know or understand about the nature of most Indian scripts? And how do we extend this understanding to help children learn the script in more meaningful, engaging ways? This handout, written by Akhila Pydah, tries to answer many of these questions by suggesting key principles to bear in mind as we teach the children, to learn the script. Akhila also suggests some activities that could be used in the classroom. We hope you find this handout helpful. 

ELI_Handout_6_Learning the Script

ELI Practitioner Brief 5: Supporting Phonological Awareness in Pre-Primary and Primary Classrooms

This handout on Phonological Awareness written by Harshita Das and Akhila Pydah, aims to help the reader understand the nuances involved when considering the concept of Phonological Awareness. The handout gives us a brief overview as to what this concept means and why it is essential that it is supported in early language classrooms. Also provided in the handout are a number of activities that could be used in the classroom. These activities can be adapted to teach both Indian languages as well as English. Read on to find out more. 

ELI_Handout_5_Phonological Awareness 

ELI Practitioner Brief 4: 'Reading' Illustrations in Picture Books

The handout is an attempt to help readers understand the nuances of 'reading' pictures in books that heavily rely on illustrations to richly compliment the few words that tell a story. How do we help children to appreciate the many aspects of a picture book, and in the process, facilitate active meaning making as they read? Akhila Pydah takes us through some of these key aspects of illustrations and design, and how art and words come together to enhance the experience of a book. We are hoping you could use this understanding to encourage your students to appreciate the same, as they engage with picture books.

Reading Illustrations_ELI_Handout 4_2019

ELI Practitioner Brief 3: Promoting Language and Literacy Development through School Libraries

Harshita Das emphasizes on the importance of libraries  in the language and literacy development of learners. This handout is designed for language teachers and librarians who already have access to a library, but would like to learn how to use it better. Through a set of nine interactive activities, this handout leaves the reader with ideas about how to liven up libraries for different age groups.


ELI Practitioner Brief 2: Creating Spaces for Child's Language Within the Classroom

Shuchi Sinha writes about why it is important to conceive of and create multilingual classrooms. Creating spaces for a child's language holds consequences both for the child's comprehension as well as for the rightful inclusion of her identity, culture and experiences. The Handout ends with some useful tips on creating a multilingual environment within classrooms.

ELI Handout 2 Multilingualism

ELI Practitioner Brief 1: Teaching Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing : Sequential or Simultaneous?

Should the teaching of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing be sequential or simultaneous? Studies on young children’s language and literacy development tell us that children should be engaged simultaneously with the LSRW capabilities, because they are highly interconnected and inter-dependent. Shailaja Menon and Nisha Butoliya emphasize this point further with supporting theory explained through interactive exchanges and anecdotes.

Teaching, listening, speaking, reading and writing: sequential or simultaneous

Language and Literacy Learning in Early Years: What should it look like?

Supporting early language and literacy through children's literature - Hindi

Supporting early language and literacy through children's literature - English