Saturday, November 27, 2010

Plus Plus Points

What teachers teach is not as important as how teachers teach.

Through the course I learnt alot from Dr Yeap's skilful delivery of each lesson. He has helped me to see the relevance and meaning of each learning activity, engaging us through our participation. intertwining the initiatives into the lessons, we got to experience learning by inquiry, by interacting, by doing and lastly, by reflecting.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Professional Development

What is Professional Learning Community (PLC)?

3 big ideas:
(1) learning rather than teaching (enjoy learning more)
(2) work collaboratively (learn best with others)
(3) accountable for results (focus on outcome)

4 guiding questions:
(1) What we want students to learn?
(2) How do we know theyhave learnt?

Differentiated Instruction:
(3) What do we do if they do not learn?
(4) What would you do if they already learnt?

PLC provides the platform for us to do Lesson Study where we look into learning opportunities.

Lesson Study is a plaform for sharing from experienced teachers and beginning teachers in context (to explain / intrepret things in an authentic situation). It also enrich teachers' pedagogical knowledge and enhance teaching strategies thus more beneficial for the students.(PLC 3 big ideas).

Closing Gaps:
(1) Collecting detailed data based on 1 child, a pair or a small group of students. (Not the whole class)
(2) Describe what you see and interpret (in context)
(3) Focus on learning goal for at least 1 year.
(4) Pick the selected teacher to be observed last. (everyone takes ownership)

Tonight esstential take-away, would be how to close the gaps in lesson study.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How tall are you Mr Pillar?

Today we reflected upon what is assessment.

The mindmap highlights that assessment has moved away from traditional pen-and-paper testing / tasks to include a variety modes of assessment over the years. A few examples of the inititatives in assessment: Project Work, Alternative Assessment such as Portfolio, Performance Task. Moving away from the traditional way of testing enables the child to show you what they know. With Holistic Assessment being the new kid on the block, I believe it will equip us with more tools to better understand our children's learning needs and for our own personal development.

Keeping in mind the purpose of assessment: (1) Assessement for learning, (2) Assessment of learning and (3) Assessment as learning. Knowing the purpose (1)why we assess, we will be able to plan (1) What we assess? and (3) How we assess?

We went on an experiential trip for our Performance Task tonight.
Topic: Length
Task: To measure the height of a pillar (groupwork)*

Given a few measuring tools, we explore and experimented a few ways in which we can use them to find the height of the pillar. We also discovered that we could make use of our surrounding e.g. the tiles on the wall, the shadow cast, the stair in solving the task given.

Bring the task back into class, we learn to evaluate our own learning. With these 3 questions:

(1) I could have thought of these methods myself.
(2) These methods make sense
(3) These methods do not make sense to me

Stretching Exercise: This activity allows one to assess child if they can measure longer distances.

*Working collaboratively to solve problem, trigger more ideas. Learning comes from doing.


Everyone was put to task again with one of today's challenge.

We have to create a game and the variation.

Multiply a 2-digit by a 1-digit number.
Which combination will not exceed 100?
What is the largest possible product? or
What is the lowest? Why?

While looking at all the product written on the board it was brought to our attention that
e.g. 15x 2=30, 12x5=60 having the same digit, the answers differ. Looking at it closely, we started to look for patterns or relationship between the numbers (the difference between the answers is 10 times the difference between the ones place), making generalisation.

Not only did I challenge myself to surface as many different combination as possible, this activity created plenty of joy.

Take 1 Take 2

'Take 1 Take 2' was another game we played during one of our lessons.

Though paper clips* were used as counters it reminded me of the chinese game, "jianshizi" or "picking stones". It is a 2-player game. Each palyer can take 1 or take 2 paper clip(s) from the heap of paper clips at one time. The person who makes the last move (i.e. who takes the last paper clip(s)) wins.

What are the chances of winning?

We realised after a few attempts (with a small heap of around 15 to 20 paper clips), we noticed a pattern. By taking 1 or 2, we have to trap our opponent by leaving 3 behind (multiple of 3), in order to win. We went on to take 1, take 2 or take 3. We left 4 behind.

This may be a lesson on the application of Multiples but the during the process of finding the solution, we talked and discussed the possible methods of winning this game. With every game played, I realised the love for mathematics grows as it triggers your curiosity in finding out how things works through a fun way, game. One learns to persevere in searching not only for the answer but appreciating the thinking processes that went into it.

Teacher as Entertainer

10 number cards (card 1 to 10) were used for spelling of numbers, a P1 topic.

By placing the cards as we spell each number (o-n-e), below the stack one by one , the next card reveals the numeral, '1'.

Is that Magic? No, it's the beauty of mathematics!

After Dr Yeap's 'magic show', we used the cards to find our own explanation. Thought through and discussed what we saw, we came up with some modifications to the effect presented, all while practising basic arithmetic skills and problem-solving strategies.

The magical part of today's lesson was it plays on children's or even adults' inquisitive nature. The spelling game allows us to think critically about what we see. It doesn't matter if we will find the right answer anot.

The goal is to keep us interested in and thinking about math.

Teaching and Learning Part 1

How to make learning fun?!
Our lesson on 12 Oct was through play. Why play?

Lev Vygotsky suggests that there is an ability level that children can reach but not without help from adults, which he refer to the zone of proximal development. Through play, it gives us cues about their readiness to learn new skills with assistance.

The game, Salute reinforces math facts namely addition or multiplication. Could imagine the children would find it fun like I did. The excitement when you race to figure out which number you are holding. From 3 players we increased to 4 players. That increases the difficulty of the game.

It is amazing that with just a deck of cards and simple rules and instructions, children learn to think abstractly and independently.