Monday, November 29, 2010

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year

Today will be our last session for this course. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Yeap And Dr Ng for a wonderful course. I have a better understanding of the initiatives and I am able to conduct better Mathematics lessons with the new strategies that I have learnt during the course.

I hope everyone will have a good rest during the holidays.

I wish Dr Yeap, Dr Ng and all my classmates Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year! 

10th Reflection - 23 November 2010

Initiatives in Professional Development

In a lesson study, teachers have to identify a specific goal they want to achieve. They will have to work in a group. During the process, they must work together to create, develop, plan, implement, evaluate and re-implement lessons. After planning a lesson, a teacher is identified to conduct the lesson while the other teachers observe the lesson. Actual observations, on-site, are very important in lesson study. The teachers usually pick a group of students or two for their observations. Then, they will come together to discuss what they have observed in great detail. Next, they will revise the lesson and perhaps, another teacher will be identified to conduct the lesson in another class. The teachers will observe the new lesson and discuss what they have observed after the lesson. Lastly, they will write a report based on the data they have collected with regards to their goal. However, all teachers must bear in mind that when they are observing a lesson, they must not interact with the students in the class. They must also not assist the students even if they encounter difficulties when performing a task. Finally, they must not interact among themselves during the lesson observation. The teacher who conducts the lesson must remember to allow the last ten minutes of the lesson for the observers to interact or interview the students.

What are the benefits of lesson study? Teachers learn to work in groups. Next, they learn to observe and critique better. They also have a better understanding of the content. They become more focus in wanting to help the pupils to learn. Lastly, teachers learn to support one another better.

In PLC, the teachers only conduct the lessons and collect the date on their own. No observations are being carried out. Thus, the teachers are not able to observe whether their students actually learn during the lesson because they are busy teaching. Therefore, it is not a bad idea to get other teachers to observe the lesson for constructive feedback.
Website of Lesson Study:  

9th Reflection - 16 November 2010

Initiatives in Professional Development

     What is a “Professional Learning Community (PLC)?” It is actually made up of a group of professional individuals who have a common interest, such as education, coming together to discuss about the problems faced by their students, especially in academic, and how they can help them. Thus, PLC focuses on the following three big ideas:
v  Ensuring that students learn
v  A culture of collaboration
v  A focus on Results
     Under the first big idea, the focus shifts from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning. Teachers in PLC must know actually what they want their students to learn, whether their students have learnt as well as how they should response when their students face difficulties in learning. If they find out that their students have difficulties in learning, they must identify the students who need help immediately. They must also provide the necessary intervention to the students as soon as possible and finally, they must provide more help to the students until they have mastered the relevant skills. In the second big idea, the teachers must understand that they must always work together to achieve the goals they have set. For instance, they must work together to analyse and improve their teaching strategies in the classrooms. This can be achieved through consistent sharing and reading in groups. In the third big idea, the teachers must gather data all the time to turn them into useful information for them to analyse how they can help their students to perform better in their work. Results are crucial in this big idea. Therefore, if the teachers really put in a lot of hard work and are committed to their work, the students will definitely learn.      
            My school begins to implement PLC from the beginning of this year. Every level adopts a core subject to conduct PLC. The P3 teachers found that the pupils are weak in model drawing. As a result, they have difficulties in solving problem sums. They want all their pupils to master the skill of model drawing well. They began to use the TT to discuss their area of concern, read literature and try out strategies which are useful in the teaching of model drawing. They conducted a pre-test, provided the appropriate interventions and ended with a post-test. They also collected data during the process for analysing purposes and for improvement in their teaching strategies. At the end of the process, the teachers found that the pupils are able to draw models better and they are able to put all the appropriate labels too. The teachers were happy that they had used PLC.
            Thus, PLC seems to be a good tool for helping the pupils improve their learning.

Monday, November 15, 2010

8th Reflection (9 November 2010)

During the lesson, I learnt that assessments are important because they support the holistic development of the students. It is through assessments that we would know to what extent the students learn what has been taught, as well as how we can improve our teaching strategies to make them learn better. Assessments can come in the form of rubrics and qualitative and quantitative feedback. They can also be conducted anytime and anywhere, formally or informally.
Dr Yeap brought us to measure the height of one of the pillars. He also provided us with some instruments such as measuring tapes and set squares. He did not tell us how we should measure the pillar but let us explore the different ways of measuring it. After that, we went back to the room to discuss whether the methods used are appropriate for measuring the pillar. The following questions were also given to us to ponder:
(a) I could have thought of these methods myself;
(b) These methods make sense;
(c) These methods do not make sense.
The above activity mentioned not only allows us to conduct peer and group assessments, it allows us to assess whether the students know how to use the instruments, provided by the teacher, correctly. It is also an example of a performance task. Therefore, if it is being used for assessment, it becomes a performance assessment.
Not all skills can be tested through pencil and paper tests. Thus, students, especially the pupils in the lower primary, are given performance tasks to assess whether they can perform them appropriately and correctly at their level. Not only does performance task tell teachers and parents how much the students have learnt, it also gives them an insight on how they learn and what can be done to help them to enhance their learning.     

7th Reflection (2 November 2010)

After our group project, I had been discussing with my group members on how I should proceed with my individual project. We brainstormed on several ideas but nothing was fixed. However, we decided to search for photographs, slides or videos in our schools for our own project work. We also gave one another ideas on how we should search for relevant websites of practices by educators all over the world.
However, I am glad I am given this opportunity to do this project because as I collect the information, I learn more and more about the current initiatives of the Primary Mathematics Curriculum through my reading. At the same time, it provides me with the opportunity to ponder too. Thus, I begin to have a greater understanding of the initiatives. Once again, I begin to teach the subject by focussing on ‘why we teach, what we teach and how we teach’ (MOE, Singapore: BlueSky, 2004) as well as ‘shifting the focus from “quantity” to “quality” in education’ (MOE, Singapore: BlueSky, 2004).

Monday, October 25, 2010

Absence from Lesson on 26 October 2010

Hi Dr Yeap and classmates,

I'm sorry I can't join all of you for the lesson this evening as I'm on medical leave. Have a nice day! See you next week!

Bee Hong

6th Reflection

Initiatives in Teaching & Learning (Part 2)
Three activities, namely tiles problem, structure problem and circle problem, were conducted with the class during the lesson. In the first activity, the groups were given tiles to form shapes and to find the perimeter of the shapes. Eventually the class was given a higher order question to solve. For instance, the class was asked to find the number of tiles needed if the perimeter given was 93 cm. In the second activity, the class had to solve a problem whereby some structures, in the form of cubes, were given and the students had to look for patterns in order to find the rods needed to build new structures as well as the height of the structures. In the last activity, the students were given square coloured papers and they had to fold into different shapes to find the area of a circle.
Next, Dr Yeap shared with the class the PERI Report in relation to the activities conducted. The PERI Report stated that students learn through the following experience:
(a) Learning by inquiry
(b) Learning by interacting
(c) Learning by doing
(d) Learning in and of the real world
(f)  Learning by reflecting

Dr Yeap also shared Vygotsky’s theory of ‘Zone of proximal development (ZPD)’ with the class. According to Vygotsky (1896 – 1934), it is the gap between a child’s ability to perform a task on his own (lower level) to his ability to perform the task with the help of another child or adult (higher level). He believed that learning takes place in this zone. This was exactly what Dr Yeap was trying to show us when he was conducting the activities. He let us explore all possibilities as we were solving the problems. However, when we were unable to solve them, he began to prompt us with questions to assist us to solve the problems.  We were able to solve the problems gradually through the systematic questions asked.
Throughout the lesson, I learnt that students learn through activities. Activities are fun and engaging. Students interact with one another through activities. They discuss about the problem, share what they have learnt and solve it eventually through teamwork. This is especially helpful for students with lower ability. They learn concepts through group work. In fact, everyone learns in a non-threatening environment. This is exactly what we hope to achieve as teachers and what the initiatives are all about. Everyone must go through all types of experiences no matter how difficult they may be. This is because we will be able to face and overcome all obstacles when the situation arises. Thus, as teachers, we must help to sharpen our students’ intellectual ability, through visualization and abstraction, through the teaching of Mathematics.   
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