Thursday, November 25, 2010

My 11th reflection – Summing up

My 11th reflection – Summing up
25 November 2010

The agenda for the night:
1)      Lesson study
2)      Professional learning
- opportunities within lesson lesson
3)      Concluding the course
Dr Yeap summed up on the importance aspects of lesson study – where before planning a lesson – we identify the research theme for the lesson. The teachers involve will work together to discuss how to carry out the lessons so as to ensure students’ learning take place in the classroom. We need to bear in mind the importance of collaboration and to focus on students’ learning outcomes. We were reminded of Vygotsky’s theory on ZPD.
By engaging lesson study, teacher are able to share ideas in teaching and learning, new teachers and the more experienced ones can learn from one another and in this way, pedagogical knowledge can be further enhanced. Besides identifying the research team, teachers should also identify the school’s objectives, identify the individual teacher to carry out the lesson, choose a unit plan, plan the lesson and enact it. We should also identify the key tasks and anticipate pupils’ responses. The key characteristic of the lesson study is that it is a ‘live’ lesson and the other teachers who are observing the lesson should focus on 1 or 2 pupils in order to give a detailed description of the pupils learnt during the lesson. It improves the teachers’ observation skills and interaction with the pupils and among teachers during the lesson is not encouraged so as not to distract the pupils when they are learning. The pupils are not grouped according to ability. We got to see an example of lesson study by Fuchun Primary where the pupils in groups tried to find the longest distance between two points on a circle. They had to learn through collaboration and make use of the resources such as recording sheets, 4 circles, strings and rulers. They had to measure the circumference and diameter of the circle and see how they are related. We learnt that through the post lesson discussion, the teachers learnt about the nature of the students engagement, the catalyst and obstacles faced by the students, which they had jotted down in their notes. They talked about the Mathematics content- the relationship between diameter and circumference. I have learnt teachers are the engineers of who design the process and the lesson study is like a testing of the processes. The key points of the lesson study are the facilitation and the detailed observation of the pupils’ learning. Some things like engagement of pupils is difficult to measure so the best way is to look at the pupils  and from observation, we will know whether the pupils are meaningfully engaged in the lesson. The 4 key questions which should bear in mind are :-
1)What you want to students to learn?
2)How do you know when they have learnt it?
3)What do we do when they have not learnt it?
4) What do we do when they already know it?
To sum up, Dr Yeap asked about the rationale for teaching Mathematics in school. It is
to provide positive experiences for pupils so that there is enjoyment and excitement when they learn Mathematics. It is a vehicle for the development and improvement of intellectual thinking and we use it in our daily life. We revised on the different initiatives like TLLM, PETALS PERI, Assessment modes and Professional development.
I have to say that it has been a meaningfully learning journey and I have learnt a lot and enjoyed Dr Yeap’s lessons. Thank you Dr Yeap,  for those wonderful, inspiring and informative lessons.J

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My 10th reflection – Initiatives in Professional Development

My 10th reflection

17th November 2010

The agenda for the night:
1)      PLC – Professional Learning Community
2)      Lesson Study
3)      Polygons
4)      Research Lesson
5)      Sample test item

We read an informative article on PLC where Dr Yeap initiated the discussion on the importance and the rationale for conducting PLC among teachers. PLC is one of the tools for action and research studies, pre-post tests, it is for intervention and an instrument to get data. Learning Circle, which I am sure, many of us are involved in our schools, is also a tool to find new and innovative ways to improve the quality of teaching and learning. It helps gather best practices and enhance teachers’ professional knowledge for sharing and improve students learning outcomes. Dr Yeap also pointed out the use of cooperative learning when we work in groups, where each member becomes an expert in an area and then shares the knowledge with the other group members. In this way, every member benefits in the learning through the sharing.  In Lesson study, teachers are provided with the teaching support for the pupils based on their learning styles and strategies. Teachers will be able to identify the learning gaps and find solutions for the learning difficulties. Teachers ask critical questions and planned their research lessons to help their pupils.
They get together to interact on solving their classroom pedagogical approaches and try to find solutions. It provides the teachers the opportunity to understand the students’ needs and their teaching strategies to teach in a better way. I feel that this is great way improve in their teaching so that they can help their pupils learn more effectively.
Through the lesson on polygons, we were instructed to find the total sums of the angles in a polygons- Dr Yeap took some of the students answers and discussed them with the class. In this activity, teachers are able to anticipate pupils’ responses and get pupils to give reasons for their solutions and assess their understanding of the lesson. This activity ties in with the PETALs and TLLM approaches, where teachers use different modes of assessment, pupils learn more using hands-on, visualization, application, looking back, making deduction and they learn to reason and relate.
We also took a look at the other research lessons that were carried in other countries like Hong Kong and China. In Hong Kong, the theory of variation is being whereas in China, the children focus more on precision by practicing, for the purpose of competition. We watched a video on public research study where the teacher used the interactive white board to teach angles and reading the story –The greedy triangle by Marilyn Burns. She also used authentic items such as a soccer ball to show the 5- sided pentagon shapes on it. IT was used like the interactive whiteboard and notebooks for the pupils to enhance her teaching and learning. I find that I have learnt more about lesson study and how it is conducted by observing this lesson and I will apply the strategies in the my classroom and share them with the other teachers in my school.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My 9th Reflection – Initiatives in Assessment

My 9th  Reflection
10th November 2010

The agenda for the night:
1)      performance assessment
2)      rubrics
3)      a look at international assessment
4)      formative assessment

We had our outdoor activity that night where we tried to measure the height of the pillar using the measuring tools Dr Yeap had prepared for us. It was enjoyable as we thought of and discussed the different ways of measuring the height. Some of us tried measuring the height using the measuring tape – a direct method of measurement.Others measured the length of the tiles on the steps and walls and multiplied them eg – 46 x 15 cm = 690cm to get the answers. There were those used estimations and properties of triangles to get the height. It was when we had the hands-on activities. In the classroom, we discussed the different ways and some of us were pleased to get the answers right. Dr Yeap showed examples of performance task where we, as teachers could assess our pupils’ ability by observing the way they perform the tasks or finding the solutions to the problems. We were told to list down our answers on which methods made sense to us, which did not, and which methods that I could have thought of myself. It was a good way to reflect on the measurement activity.
 He emphasized the importance of assessing the skills and competencies that have been taught to the pupils. When using rubrics, it should be made simple, straightforward (with the core competencies spelt out clearly) with not too many categories in them. Students should be encouraged to reflect on their completed tasks where they get to explain the process on how they have come up with their answers so that they can develop their thinking and reasoning skills. Getting pupils to do their work in their exercise books or portfolios would be a good way of for teachers to know in greater detail of the performance of each child as we have a collection of the pupils’ work with us. I have learnt that we could get pupils to learn Mathematics in  a fun and engaging by choosing the right activities which are suitable to their ability, relate to everyday life and the right assessment tools to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom.
Dr Yeap ended the class with a quote from Albert Einstein “Anything that is measurable is not important, Anything that is not measurable is important” which left me thinking about it as I left the classroom that night.