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.   
Source :   

Sunday, October 17, 2010

5th Reflection

5th Reflection:

            We played 4 games last Tuesday and I enjoyed myself very much. I am sure everyone felt like kids again. Although the games may look simple and they can be played by the pupils from the lower primary, I feel that these games may also be played by the pupils from the upper primary. For instance, ‘Salute’ can be played by the pupils from the lower primary with addition and subtraction. Then, it can be proceeded to be played by the pupils from the upper primary with multiplication and division. However, the level of difficulty of the game played in the different level depends on whether the pupils are able to accomplish them. Teachers must know the abilities of their pupils whenever they design any Mathematical games to be played during the lessons. Otherwise, the games will make the pupils lose interest in the subject and make them not want to learn it at all. As teachers, it is important to realise that what we teach daily is not as important as how we teach every day. Once we are able to capture the attention of our pupils, they will want to know more about the subject or the topics learnt and will continue to learn no matter how difficult the process may be. Gradually, they will enjoy learning and will continue to learn even as they grow older. This is especially important to our nation as we need our citizens to continue to upgrade themselves so that they can contribute to the society consistently, for its progress. Thank you Dr Yeap for making me realise this point again through the lesson!         

Friday, October 8, 2010

4th Reflection

We met last Tuesday after school for our final discussion. We read through one another’s slides and commented on what else could be improved on the slides. We also shared our ideas on how we want to present our findings. When I saw the final product of our project, I was very impressed with what we had done. A very big thank you to our IT expert, Kong, for helping us to put up such professional slides! I am really glad to be part of this group and I look forward to working with my teammates in the future. Through these meetings and discussions, not only have I learnt more about the different current initiatives of MOE, I also got to know more about my teammates. I believe that the bond we share will continue even after we have graduated three years later. Therefore,   I feel that we must teach our students the skills of cooperation, for instance, through project work. Not only does it help them to establish stronger rapport, they will learn about one another’s strengths as well as how to show their potential to the fullest too. Moreover, they will also learn how to accommodate one another. Thus, this will enable the students to learn how to preserve racial and religious harmony in our society in the future.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

3rd Reflection

Despite our tight schedule, my group members and I managed to correspond through emails and sms before we met again on 30 September. We discussed about what we had found out, where else we could find more articles to read as well as what we should put in the slides that we are going to present.

We were excited when our IT expert, Kong, had set up a platform, Wetpaint, for us to upload the work that we had done. Through this platform, we were able to read and understand more about the other initiatives of MOE, especially the ones that are related to Mathematics. This is the beauty of cooperative learning! Otherwise, the amount of reading would be tremendous. We were able to exchange our views and helped one another to edit our work too. This really shows that the advancement of technology is great. Without it, our work will definitely take a longer period of time to complete. Perhaps, I will also try to explore it further to see what I can do for my pupils in Mathematics in the future.

Through reading the initiatives, I began to have a deeper understanding of the initiatives. In a nutshell, they were formed to enable the students to enjoy learning. Thus, teachers must try their best to teach differently in class so that the students are totally engaged during the lessons. Teachers must instil the joy of learning in their students. Gradually, they will begin to learn for themselves and not for others. This is definitely the ultimate goal of all teachers.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reflection after the first group meeting

Before my group members and I met, I began to search high and low for information regarding the initiatives of MOE for the assignment. The types of information that can be obtained from the internet are unbelievable. It was overwhelming! Any information needed is just a ‘click’ away.
As for the meeting, besides listing down all the initiatives of MOE and discussing which initiatives are appropriate for the assignment, we also shared on how we could obtain the information. Then we began to allocate our work accordingly. We would be using the ‘jigsaw’ and ‘think and share’ methods to help one another to learn about the initiatives. One of our group members, an IT expert, suggested that we can exchange our information through a platform that he is going to create. He would give us more details when we meet again.  
As I was reading, I began to reflect why I have chosen teaching as my career. Is teaching all about imparting knowledge only? Yes, but to me, it is also about how we as teachers can help our pupils to realise that learning does not end once they leave schools. It is, in fact, a lifelong process. Learning is a ‘two-way traffic’, from a teacher to the pupils and vice versa, too. Participation for all is vital. Thus, teachers must become more creative and use different types of strategies to teach in the classrooms. Then, our pupils will enjoy learning in schools and eventually, become lifelong learners.  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

First Reflection of Mathematics Lesson

Hi All,

I’m back to school again. I attended the 1st lesson on Mathematics on 7 September at NIE.

During this lesson, we used tangrams to create squares. We used 3 to 7 pieces of them to create the squares. As we were doing the activity, our lecturer, Dr Yeap, encouraged us to take down notes and draw pictures of the squares we had created using the tangrams. He also encouraged us to share our findings as well as challenged us to be more creative in the making of squares. Then, Dr Yeap proceeded to make us recall the current initiatives in Primary Mathematics curriculum through his questions.
1) Name cards –
Besides writing our names on the front of the card, we were asked to write down the date and our signature at the back of our cards. This is a creative idea as it not only enables the lecturer to keep track of the students’ attendance, it also makes them to be responsible for their own actions. This is because if a student misses a lesson, he will know exactly which one he has missed out and will try to find out what has been taught for that particular lesson.

2) Hands-on Activities (Tangrams) –
When the students have hands-on activity at the beginning of a Mathematics lesson, it creates a non-threatening atmosphere for learning as well as stimulates one’s interest in the subject or topic. During the making of squares, the students were encouraged to share what they had created. This enabled the weaker students to learn from their peers without feeling that they were incompetent. As for the students who were good and fast in creating the squares, they were encouraged to be more creative by challenging them to use more pieces of the tangrams in their creation. The students were also encouraged to take down notes of the activities conducted. This would help them to remember what had been taught and what they had learnt from the activities. Moreover, when the lecturer asked questions, the students could refer to the notes quickly and answer the questions appropriately.

3) Questioning Techniques –
Throughout the lesson, Dr Yeap’s tone and questioning techniques put everyone at ease. For example, he encouraged the students to share their thoughts with their peers, so that the weaker students could still follow what had been taught. As for the high ability students, he challenged them to be more creative in their work by telling them to continue to create squares with more pieces of the tangrams. Thus, it encouraged lots of participation from the students. Moreover, during the hands-on session, Dr Yeap’s questions led the students to think through what they were doing. For instance, he did not tell the students that he was teaching the topic on ‘Area’ with the use of tangrams. Instead, he asked leading questions, in a step-by-step manner, to help the students realised that they were actually learning about areas of squares.

Therefore, through this lesson, not only have I learnt about the current initiatives in Primary Mathematics curriculum, I have also learnt how to conduct better Mathematics lessons in class.

Thus, although the road ahead is going to be rough, I still feel that it is good to be a student again!