Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My 8th Reflection – Assessment

My 8th Reflection

27th October 2010

The agenda for the night:-
1)      Assessment (an interactive lecture)
2)      Area is five activity
3)      Framework- workbook task ,word problems

Dr Yeap gave us to the opportunity to talk about what we know of assessment and the different modes of assessments.I learnt that in order to promote critical and creative thinking skills and nurture problem-solving and independent learning abilities in students, we should adopt different modes of assessment. The summative and formative assessments are important in the learning and teaching process. Through PERI recommendation, assessment should be effectively used to support the holistic development of the pupils.
In the lower primary, the focus should be on building pupils’ confidence and desire to learn, placing more emphasis on skills and non-academic areas. The usual pen and paper test or written examination should be balanced with the use of alternative modes of assessments. I feel that a range of assessment modes and bit-sized forms of assessments should be used so that we could get richer feedback on pupils’ performance, check on pupils’ understanding mastery of concepts and plan better lessons. As teachers, we could also use these to communicate with parents on the progress of our pupils.
When coming up with alternative assessments such as project work, portfolio, show and tell, we should be aware of the learning outcomes, the cognitive and affective aspects of learning so that we could get a better feedback for pupils’ abilities. Through self reflection and journal entry, pupils could also reflect on what their have learnt, their feelings and ways for improvement.
With the use of rubrics, teachers would get a better understanding of levels of attainment for the skills the pupils are at. The pupils would get the feedback from teachers and the pupils’ feedback are also shown to the parents and in this way, the pupil, teacher and parent are clear about the pupil’s strengths and areas for improvement.
The area is 5 activity was a fun and engaging way to learn about area. We used rubber band, grid papers and geoboards to come up with figures with 5 units square. The class came up with several different ways of forming the figures and it was a good activity for pupils learn about area and perimeter. This activity generated a lot of thinking, n exploring ways for finding solutions to the problems, which is how an effective Math lesson should be.
With the activities on using workbook , Dr Yeap showed exampled of how some questions could low in validity when assessing pupils’ understanding and mastery of concepts. He encouraged us to read about Lev Vygotsky’s ZPD- zone of proximal development. According to the theory,  ‘the gap between performance and the potential level, that is the zone of proximal development’ – and that “ children are assisted to move beyond what they have shown they can do in everyday activities by having their learning scaffolded, using cultural tools,..." It is good to know as teachers that we provide children with experiences which are their ZPD, which encouraged and advanced their individual learning.
Dr Yeap also explained to us the 6 ways on why some pupils find solving Math problems difficult to do.
1)      difficulty in reading, cannot read and/or understand the problems
2)      able to read but cannot understand the meaning of the questions
3)      lack of knowledge of heuristics/ problem solving strategies
4)      lack of knowledge on transformation – story to pictures
5)      lack of computational skills
6)      not able to use computation to find solutions
With the information, I am more aware of and focused on my pupils’ weaknesses and limitations this would help me in coming up with appropriate strategies to help them in solving Math problems. 
I am glad to say that I have learnt a lot from Dr Yeap.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My 7th reflection – finding solutions

My 7th reflection

20 October 2010

 Another interesting night of solving Math problems and Dr Yeap got us to think about the PERI pedagogies – learning by inquiry, learning by interacting, learning by doing, learning in and of the real world, learning by reflecting.
The agenda is as follows:

1) Tiles Problem
2) Structure Problem
3) Circle Problem

I find that the tiles problem an interesting way to learn about area and perimeter. We were asked to find the number of tiles based on the given perimeter.  We also explored different ways to convert the circle into other shapes like a square, a triangle and a rectangle. We revised on the properties of the circle, how the diameter is related to the circumference as we tried to find ways of converting the area of the circle to other shapes. We tried different ways of finding the solutions. Dr Yeap allowed us to ask questions, communicate with our group members and we definitely learnt about looking for pattern structure, visualization, come up with different strategies,  through the hands-on session and by interacting with one another. Dr Yeap would get to explain the answers which we had come up with. Through reflection, we would know which strategies can be applied and which cannot. With the knowledge of the different ways by which pupils learn, we should bear that in mind when we plan lesson activities so as to provide opportunities for our pupils to develop their thinking and problem solving skills. Without thinking, there is no learning. Dr Yeap demonstrated the use of PERI pedagogies well in his lessons. Thank you Dr Yeap!

Friday, October 15, 2010

My 6th reflection – Current Initiatives

My 6th reflection -
15 October 2010

    I was glad to be back for Dr Yeap’s Math lessons for that day, knowing that I would  have a very engaging and interesting time learning about current initiatives and solving some Math sums with my other coursemates. Dr Yeap revised with us the PETAL framework which we, as teachers, should consider when planning our lessons.
I would make a point to look at my pedagogies, pupils’ experiences of learning, tone of environment in the classroom, the modes of assessment, the learning content and student-centred activities when I plan for my lessons. We were introduced to games
on addition and multiplication which I feel my pupils would enjoy playing too.
  Dr Yeap’s agenda for the night : -
1)      The salute game
2)      Card game – Magic Touch
3)      Take 1, Take 2
4)      Multiplication

We got to play the ‘salute’ game – on finding the product of 40 with our group members and I really had fun coming up with the number facts. It was like a drill and practice on multiplication and we could also use this game to teach number facts for example addition and subtraction. It was an interesting game to play and at the same time revise on the 4 operations of multiplication, division, addition and subtraction. I would definitely try out this game with my pupils when I get the chance in class.
The card game – Magic touch made everyone interested in finding how the cards were arranged and in groups, after several attempts, managed to find the way. I was thrilled and I learnt that we should use various strategies like trial and error, guess and check to find solutions to the problems. This game is suitable to teach spelling of number 1- 10 for the lower primary kids and I am sure they would be mesmerized when they see the ‘magic’. Dr Yeap emphasized that the metacognition- that is the brain’s ability to think and solve problem, the management of thinking is important and we should expose our pupils to such tasks to help them develop their thinking skills.
Playing the Take 1, Take 2 game – using the paper clips got think of strategies on how to win the game which we can use when we teach multiples of 3 or 4 and so on.
For the multiplication game, we learnt how to multiply sums in different ways and this game can be played when pupils have learnt their tables. I realized that the strategies we use to teach our pupils are important in helping them to understand and grasp the Math concepts. Dr Yeap reminded us the importance of teaching Mathematics – that it is ‘ a vehicle for the development and improvement of a person’s intellectual competence’, it is
to meet the demand of a competitive workforce  and  it is also for the enjoyment and excitement for the children where they can discover ideas and gain insights. I learnt that it is important to sharpen the thinking skills of the pupil and not to neglect the affective aspect too.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My 5th reflection - Our video editing session

My 5th Reflection
5th October 2010

We made some arrangement to meet up again, this time at McDonald’s. Despite being busy with our work, we were able to correspond with one another through emails and smses.
After dinner, we discussed what we had done and shared our ideas on ways to make improvement to the slides which we had put up on the Ulead software.  
We looked through our video slides and read the initiatives and the philosophy again. We decided to make some changes to the text and highlight the important aspects of the initiatives and the philosophy. I truly hoped that we were on the right track. I definitely would like to thank my group members Anom and Rini for their hard work and contribution to this project. Thank you to our IT expert, Rini for putting up the slides together with nice pictures and inspirational background music. Through cooperative learning, not only did I learn more about the current initiatives, I got to know our team’s strengths and weaknesses. I am glad to say that as a group, we have bonded well. It was indeed an enriching learning experience.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My 4th Reflection –Putting the initiatives together

My 4th Reflection
2 October 2010

     My team members and I met again at Anom’s place to consolidate our findings on the different MOE initiatives from 1997 to 2010. After we discussed the important information to be put on our powerpoint slides, we had the opportunity to learn some IT skills – like video editing so that we could showcase our work in a video presentation. We had some tips on how to use Ulead Videostudio software from Rini’s TA. We were taught how to place our slides onto the software, use animation, add pictures and music, etc. The lesson on using the Ulead Videostudio enabled us to use the skills to make our video presentation look more interesting. Next, we selected some suitable pictures and 2 inspirational soundtracks from the internet and used them in our video to further enhance it. We had fun learning together as a group, being an expert in one area and imparting the knowledge that we had about the initiatives to our group members. Even though we were anxious about the amount of time we would take to complete our task, we had fun coming together to learn about the initiatives. I feel that by collaborating to complete the assigned task, I have gained useful knowledge about the current initiatives, learnt some useful IT skills and contributed in the production of our group’s electronic package on the different initiatives in our education system.