Through the eyes

Hi thanks for stumbling into my site. Don't you want to relax like this monitor lizard lazing under the hot sun?  Eat, sleep and sun tan. No cares and worries. Cool right?
07 09 2010 Tuesday
 I particularly enjoyed playing with the tangrams. It took me some time before I could come up with the squares. However after a while, you will notice that there is pattern to it. The fun is in the discovery. The tasks forced me to verbalize my thoughts, discuss with my friends and pull our neurons together to come up with the squares.  I like learning through discovery because I am a kinesthetic learner. The brief history was interesting however I believe that we Singaporeans study Mathematics because we are climbing up the value added economy where brains count. So for survival purpose, we need to indulge in problem solving. Ha ha ha, see I told you, its better to be a monitor lizard.
14 09 2010 Tuesday
Finally we sorted out our "duties". I was assigned to work on TSLN. A typical acronym that we Singaporeans are so fond of. In short it stands for Thinking Schools, Learning Nations. From the acronym one can surmise that schools have to start thinking first before the nation starts learning. Aren't our schools places where everyone thinks? So why the tag line admonishing us to think? Did we think wrongly or that the thought processes need to be better refined. Thinking after all is part and parcel of school life. I suspect it it a vision to get the teachers to get the students to think. Perhaps a better acronym ( my personal opinion ) would be Thinking Students, Creative Teachers, Learning Schools and Achieving Nation - TCLA. What do you think? At least TCLA rolls off the tongue much easier.
21 09 2010 Tuesday
I googled for TSLN and found this interesting website. Guess I hit jackpot. -
*  Ministry of Education's vision of "Thinking Schools, Learning Nation" (TSLN) was first announced by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in 1997.
*  This vision describes a nation of thinking and committed citizens capable of meeting the challenges of the future, and an education system geared to the needs of the 21st century.
*  Thinking schools will be learning organisations in every sense, constantly challenging assumptions, and seeking better ways of doing things through participation, creativity and innovation. Thinking Schools will be the cradle of thinking students as well as thinking adults and this spirit of learning should accompany our students even after they leave school.
A Learning Nation envisions a national culture and social environment that promotes lifelong learning in our people. The capacity of Singaporeans to continually learn, both for professional development and for personal enrichment, will determine our collective tolerance for change.
I shall dig up more and update you. Have you visited the site?
12 10 2010 Tuesday
 Wow back to school again. It was quite a learning experience working together as a group to come up with the e- package. Actually set up a wetpaint account for everyone to work together.
Click link to access our wetpaint site
I enjoyed myself playing all those games that Dr Yeap introduced. In particular the game, salute was my favourite. It was simple yet required you to use the multiplication facts. I like the Take 1 Take 2 too. I imagined myself as a gambler and enjoyed removing the clips. Finally figured out how to win. Actually you need to strategize to win the game. I will definitely introduce some of these games to my kids since the examinations are over. If only these games and resources were available during my primary school days! I believe the Take 1 Take 2 games was available when I was young. It was a form of gambling and the gamblers use peas and sticks at the backlane. 
There was a poll on Dr Yeap's website on the favourite game :
19 10 2010 Tuesday
I was tired today but the games kept me going.  The tiles problem was interesting. It was easier to use tables to look for patterns. Although most of the time I didn't come up with the answers, I enjoyed the process of getting the answers. It was also enriching to discover the myriad ways of arriving at the answers from my fellow classmates. It helps that Dr Yeap asked many guiding questions.
26 10 2010
Assessments, assessments and assessments! What an introduction. I didn't realize that there is so much to assessment. There are 3 types; summative, formative and diagnostic. What resonates in my head were;
* Assessment is easy to measure but not ability.
* An assessment item is not valid if a student can get the answer WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING. What a reminder.
I will be careful when I set assessments items.
* Assessment is a 2 stage process - data collection and data interpretation.
I also found out why children cannot understand problem sums.
- They can't read the problem sum.
- They can read but can't comprehend the problem sum.
- They have no strategies to solve the problem sum.
- They cannot transform problem sum story to mathematical form.
- They cannot compute.
- They cannot fit the computation to the solution. (No wonder I see so many pupils with answers that are incomplete)
A thoroughly enlightening lesson which I enjoyed.
02 11 2010
Of late these four terms have been popping up in my head; VISUALIZATION, NUMBER SENSE, METACOGNITION, ABSTRACTION  and COMMUNICATION. I went to Teacher's Network's library to borrow some books to read up on these terms. I managed only to get one book by Derek Haylock with Fiona Thangata - KEY CONCEPTS IN TEACHING PRIMARY MATHEMATICS. Still going through the book. Have also been thinking of the project that is due soon.
Some links (FROM DR YEAP'S BLOG) to other educational initiatives or projects;
PCCI Opens Policy Discourse on K-12 Education System
Several lessons to be learned from the Finnish School System
World innovation for summit education
Chile’s Education Initiative Hopes To Attract More Qualified Teachers
Mathematics Project Based Learning
Uncommon Knowledge Projects that help Middle-School-Age Youth Discover the Science and Mathematics In Everyday Life
Connecting Math to Our Lives
Maths TV Solving Videos is an innovation learning project for middle school students.  The goal of the project is to get middle school students excited about problem solving in mathematics.  Students send in word problems which, if selected, are incorporated into a video which shows a very detailed, step-by-step explanation of how to solve the problem.  The narrator of the fictional Math TV show, Infinity Quick, emphasizes a logical approach to problem solving and utilizes a variety of strategies.  At the end of the video students are invited to try a similar, interactive word problem complete with helpful hints and tools.
National Math Trail
The National Math Trail is an opportunity for K-12 teachers and students to discover and share the math that exists in their own environments. Students explore their communities and create one or more math problems that relate to what they find. Teachers submit the problems to the National Math Trail site, along with photos, drawings, sound recordings, videos--whatever can be adapted to the Internet.
Mathematics Initiatives
The goals of our math initiatives are to:
  • engage students in worthy, robust mathematical problems and puzzles
  • increase teachers' mathematical knowledge, understanding and literacy
  • develop a teaching script that is more conducive to learning: developing mathematical literacy, numeracy, mathematical reasoning and mathematical coherence in their students
  • create a collaborative network of math teachers, mathematicians and math educators to improve mathematics learning
  • create a resource of robust mathematical problems
  • collaboratively study teachers teaching to uncover the mathematics and pedagogy needed for the work of improving mathematics teaching
Coming to Answers In Different Ways
So what did I learn today? I discovered that firstly assessments for our pupils should place greater emphasis on skills development. Secondly assessments should be byte size and thirdly teachers should use rubrics for assessments.
After the lecture, we had a very interesting activity. I will definitely try it out with my class. We were to measure the height of a flight of steps. At first I thought of taping the measuring tapes together and dropping them from the top of the staircase. Subsequently I joined Yuan in measuring the steps using a set square and a clinometer. Finally Dr Yap attempted to find the height of the staircase using a picture of the staircase. Of course the most accurate measurement came from a group that made use of just one staircase and multiplying the answer by the number of staircases. So simple yet eluded me.
Professional Learning Communities
Ahhhhhhhhhh these few words are soooooo familar. It is commonly heard in school and everyone belongs to at least one PLC. What exactly is PLC?
the characteristics of a PLC are ;
1.    Shared mission, vision, values and goals.
2.    Collaborative teams focused on learning.
3.    Collective inquiry into "best practices" and "current reality".
4.    Action orientation / experimentation.
5.    Commitment to continuous improvement.
6.    Results orientation.
I am involved in my school's P4 Maths PLC. It is much much better than WITS or whatever WITS clones that I used to participate in. I enjoy the sharing and discussion sessions and through our PLC, there was an improvement in our Mathematics results.
P.S. I learnt that Richard Dufour is the "father" of PLC. How do they think up of stuff like that? Amazing!
Lesson Study.
What is it?
According to Dr Yeap,

"Lesson study builds a culture of collaboration. The entire lesson study group operates as a unit - members learn together, plan the lesson together, work together during the research lesson, help each other learn during post-lesson discussion and, even though one person taught the lesson, the entire team revise the lesson together. Without a doubt, lesson study builds a culture of collaboration."

According to :

What is lesson study?

Lesson study* is a professional development process that Japanese teachers engage in to systematically examine their practice, with the goal of becoming more effective. This examination centers on teachers working collaboratively on a small number of "study lessons". Working on these study lessons involves planning, teaching, observing, and critiquing the lessons. To provide focus and direction to this work, the teachers select an overarching goal and related research question that they want to explore. This research question then serves to guide their work on all the study lessons.

While working on a study lesson, teachers jointly draw up a detailed plan for the lesson, which one of the teachers uses to teach the lesson in a real classroom (as other group members observe the lesson). The group then comes together to discuss their observations of the lesson. Often, the group revises the lesson, and another teacher implements it in a second classroom, while group members again look on. The group will come together again to discuss the observed instruction. Finally, the teachers produce a report of what their study lessons have taught them, particularly with respect to their research question.

*"Derived from the Japanese word jugyokenkyuu, the term 'lesson study' was coined by Makoto can also be translated in reverse as 'research lesson' [coined by Catherine Lewis], which indicates the level of scrutiny applied to individual lessons." --RBS Currents, Spring/ Summer 2002

I found a very interesting article which I downloaded that speaks volumes about Lesson Study;

What are you waiting for? DOWNLOAD IT!



Ahhhh the last session of the course. I enjoyed myself thoroughly although I was always tired after a long day and having to turn up for the course.

Why did I enjoy the course?

1.    It was conducted in a non-threatening environment.

2.    Our lecturer, Dr Yeap, is absolutely professional. I am amazed at the amount of stuff stored in his brains. He can spew out facts just at a click of his fingers.

3.     I enjoyed all the activities shared throughout the course, quite a number I will try with my students. In particular, I liked the one on overcharging by SMRT and the other on the measurement of the flight of stairs.

4.    I am amazed at the way Dr Yeap scaffolds the lessons such that it always lead us to "discovering" the answers to his questions. I will attempt to scaffold my lessons like him to so that my students can "discover" the answers too.

5.    I liked all the assignments given however I wish there were more videos.

In a nutshell, THANK YOU DR YEAP for teaching me.