education

Learning Redefined.SG Episode 2: Peer Instruction

Video source

In this episode, I talked a little into what Peer Instruction is and how I carried it out with my Primary 5 Science class.

Peer instruction is a research-based interactive teaching method developed by Eric Masur. It basically provides students opportunities to learn from one another with the teacher being a facilitator providing just in time explanation.

So what do you think makes an effective question? Have you tried Peer Instruction with your class? Leave a comment in this blog post or tweet me @enoch_ng. Don’t forget to subscribe while you are here.

 

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Quality Teaching and Learning

What is quality teaching and learning? How does it look like in our classrooms? How does quality teaching and learning square with SDL and CoL given the many constrains, especially time constrains, a normal classroom teacher has?

Here are some of my own thoughts.
We really need time for teachers to craft out really quality lessons (with infusion of SDL and CoL facilitated by ICT), monitor how effective the lesson is and then refine those lessons based on the feedback. In time to come we will have solid set of lessons for each topic.
Have the end in mind. Ultimately, our pupils will be sitting for PSLE thus all our formative and summative assessments must gear our pupils, even as early as P3, to the PSLE standard. We must stretch our pupils towards PSLE standards.
Differentiated learning is also key. Stretch the high ability (more SDL & CoL?), lay stronger foundation for the low ability (create special rooms equipped with manipulatives and ICT equipments so that these pupils can get the hands-on they need) and gear the middle ability for success.
I also believe we should give pupils ample opportunity to showcase their talents so that their confidence can be boosted. Pupils who are confident will definitely do well in their exams.

Creativity…

I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity the past week after listening to Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on Creativity and reading David Warlick’s thoughts on it…

I must say I’m not sure what creativity is anymore. Having been schooled in the traditional way of rote learning. I memorized my way to a degree. Have I ever been given the opportunity to be creative when I was young? I don’t think so. The way I grew up was by knowing I cannot make mistakes. Mistakes are bad…

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you wan’t come up with anything original.”

That’s the 19th century. We are living in the 21st century. Times have changed… In the past, you are crazy and would starve if your ambition was to create a website. Today,  look at what Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have achieved. These are multi-million dollar companies. All they did… create a website!

School is the place where you do not want to get caught being wrong.

How about our pupils? I was just talking to my pupils today about the need to be responsible for their own actions and future. I told them that they are growing up in a world where nothing is for sure. I told them to follow their dreams and pursue them. I told them they were allowed to make mistakes in my class (provided they learn from it). But in my heart, I was struggling, how else can I teach them to survive in the world they are growing up in? How can I NOT teach them OUT of creativity when all I ask them to do all day long is practice, practice and more practice?

Am I a killer of their creativity?

Wow…

Thoughts on Self-directed & Collaborative learning

Singapore’s Ministry of Education has just rolled out the latest Masterplan for IT in Education (aka mp3). In it, the focus of the learning of our pupils will begin to shift to these two areas. Self-directed and collaborative learning. These strategies will be implemented in 5 key strands.

  1. ICT in Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
  2. Cyber Wellness
  3. Professional Development
  4. Research & Development
  5. ICT infrastructure

At first glance, the end goal of the masterplan looks very exciting. Pupils will be develop skills to be self-directed and collaborative learners. They will develop skills that will enable them to survive in a fast-paced, high-tech world. It will empower them with the ability to learn on their own without the need to be spoon-fed information.

However, though the destination looks exciting, the journey seems arduous. In my opinion, the challenges of self-directed and collaborative learning is two-folds.

Teacher Readiness

We talk about self-directed and collaborative learning and look at the role of ICT. Honestly, the infrastructure is more or less ready. We have high speed broadband, fast computers, numerous Web 2.0 resources all free to use that allows for self-directed and collaborative learning. So what’s stopping our pupils from becoming full fledged self-directed and collaborative learners?

I feel one reason is that our teachers are simply not ready. We, teachers, are still making that transition from our world into the digital world. Many of us frown against the use of ICT in the class citing various reasons about why ICT is a bane rather than a boon.

How ready are we to let our pupils go and learn on their own? Are we ready to take a back seat in the classroom and be just mere facilitators? Do we know how to facilitate a self-directed or collaborative learning environment? Are we confident that our pupils will benefit more from each other rather than from us?

Pupil Readiness

The next question, are our pupils ready to face a brave new world of learning? Do they have the skills necessary to do their own learning? Are they able to collaborate effectively? Do they have the social skills needed to collaborate with their peers without hurting each others feelings? Especially when it comes to collaborating with people from other countries, do they have the language to interact meaningfully with them?

Are these questions valid? Are our pupils more than ready for self-directed and collaborative learning? Are schools and teachers the only thing holding them back from fully using ICT to learn, discover and create a world of their own?

Using Audacity and Forum to practice Oral skills

Recently I got my Pri 4 pupils to use Audacity to do recordings of themselves reading an Oral passage and Picture Discussion in preparation for their oral examinations.

I felt that it was something interesting for both the pupils and myself. Many of my pupils were very focused and serious when they recorded their voices.

Here’s the rundown on what I did.

Lesson 1 (1h):

Pupils were taught how to use Audacity to do simple recording and how to export their recordings in mp3 format (which is smaller in filesize as compared to wav)

I supplied pupils with an oral passage and a picture. They did 2 seperate recordings, one for reading and the other for picture.

Lesson 2 (1h):

I already have a class forum where each pupils have their own account. So for this lesson, all I did was to create a topic in the forum specially for Oral Practice.

Pupils each created their own thread where they uploaded their recordings. This allowed them to access their recordings at home but the main reason was for them to give their friends feedback.

After they had uploaded their recordings, I got them to pair up and go into each other’s thread to listen to their friend’s readings and post a reply what they felt was good and what could be improved.

I, too, went into their threads and gave my own comments. This allowed me to give them feedback on their oral skills without them having to come to me one by one! This is amazing as it would be impossible to have a one-to-one oral practice in class. 

Challenges

The biggest challenge was hardware problems. I spent a lot of time going around checking why microphones were not working, why there was no sound, etc. Once those problems were more or less solved, the rest of the lesson went on smoothly.

However, I was left thinking. If I face so much difficulty getting my pupils to use the microphone for recording. What would the other teachers feel? Most likely, they would give up using Audacity to record given the amount of work needed to be done. How can I better support the teachers in this area?

Go check out what my pupils have done so far… Has anyone done something similar? Do share and learn from each other…

The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book

Hey all educators!!

A great resource has just been unleashed upon all of us. The great Terry Freedman (those who went for iCTLT 2010 would remember him as one of the spotlight speaker) has completed this.

Essentially, this e-book is a compilation of tons of Web 2.0 projects that other teachers have tried out with their classes. This is really a valuable resource for educators all over the world.

Thanks Terry!!

Open Letter to Educators

A very interesting video from Dan Brown. He talks about how schools as a whole needs to embrace the fact that schools needs to move away from just being a centre that provides information.

Society no longer cares how many facts we can memorise because in the Information Age, facts are free!!

We are in the midst of a very real revolution and if institutional education refuses to adapt to the landscape of the information age, it will die and it should die!

My schooling was interfering with my education

Again, thank you Ashley Tan for that great find!