Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Homework: My thoughts

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I do not always have the urge to give my pupils homework. Nevertheless, homework is an integral part of learning, and leaving it is like breaking away from a culture that has been practiced a long time ago. As this article suggests, is homework effective in developing our children? There is a few questions that needs to be considered such as children's dependency, difficulty level and time allocation.



Homework, if done right, may stimulate children's interest in a particular subject. It may also drive children to feel excited to go to school. Just like learning in the classroom, we need to have a clear objective with the homework. We could also use SMART approach to plan the task, too.

Can the children work independently on the homework? Homework is supposed to teach children to become responsible of their learning. So, children should be able to do the homework anytime and anywhere, even without their parents monitoring. However, when it is said that children can do the task independently, it does not mean that parents should not take part in the homework. Homework should bridge the gap between parents and school, and gets them even closer with their children. This would include tasks such as interviewing parents and simple write out about what they do at home.

Is the homework difficult? Homework should reinforce what children have learned previously in school. Thus, they should not be burndened with a task that they cannot do. Furthermore, some of the children may have working parents who may not have the ample time to provide assistance and guidance to their work. Some parents might even just do the homework for their children. This would ultimately defeat the purpose of having homework itself.

What is the time allocated for each homework? In some education system, homeworks are divided into subjects. Thus, it is important to make sure that the homework is not to lenghty and taking too much of the children's time. One subject may have a task that take only 10minutes to complete, but if the children have 4 other subjects to be taken account, they will have to finish all in 50 minutes. A homework can be as quick as a minute reading or solving a quick math problem.

In a nutshell, homework should probably be short and achievable with little or no guidance. However, it would depend greatly on the subjects and the type of task provided. It should also be remembered that children have other homework to do such as chores and helping out in the kitchen and the garden.

What do you think of giving out homework?


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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Common misconception of 21st century learning

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Nowadays, 21st century learning is becoming a hype around the world. However, we need to be able to distinguish how we learn in the past and how we are learning today. Often, we take 21st century learning for granted and assume that everything we are doing is modern. Let's have a look at some of the misconceptions that we have:

  1. Seating arrangement

Many proposed that in today's learning, the chairs and tables must be arranged according to the 21st century style. This includes having the U shaped arrangement, island,and boardroom as opposed to the traditional serried classroom. Many did not realise that this has been happening since education is reformed everywhere. Even if we are seated in rows, would that hinder us from having a 21st century learning?

2. It is learner centered

Learner centered education has been discussed since the cold war (or probably earlier). So, are we saying that this is actually a modern thought? Probably. However, to be honest, today's learning is very teacher centered. If we are so learner centered, we shouldn't be having teachers in the first place. Nevertheless, this is just a matter of perspective. We need to understand the role of teachers - they need to establish ground rules, making sure the classroom safe, and most importantly making sure that learning is taking place even if they are just there to facilitate..

3. Use of technology

Having wonderful gadgets does not make the school conforming to the 21st century learning. What is more important is how these gadgets are being utilised. Having modern technology would cost the school a lot, and would it help us in contributing to the environment.

Those are the factors that need to be taken into consideration. Now this is what we might consider for a 21st century learning:

  Resources

 The classroom must be equipped with a lot of resources so that the children will be able to learn independently. This is where the technology really helps. Learners should not limit their knowledge within just a textbook, but from several other sources too. Does that mean that schools with no internet are deprived from this? Not necessarily, provided that the school has a lot of books and reading materials placed everywhere for the children. A lot of them.

  Accessibility

 Often we overlook at the accessibility. This includes catering to children with special needs or with specific requirements. It actually something that has been discussed since the Salamanca Statement, yet it is only gaining pace in modern times. Nobody should be left behind in learning.

  Learning is the responsibility of everyone.

It should be noted that everything that goes around the child's daily life is actually a learning process. Thus, everyone must play a role in the child's learning -the teachers in school, the parents at home, and the community. The learners will be fed by so many information that they will be able to use them in solving problems in the classroom.

  Networking

 Learning is no longer about competing over who has the higher mark in Maths, but rather who can solve this difficult problem that transcend skills. Learning brings learners closer to the real world, and the competition includes making the most useful gadgets to improve the quality of life. With proper networking learners will use whatever information that they acquire to solve the problem. Again, this is where technology really helps.

  Care for the environment and the people

At the end of the school years learners should be able to respect one another, and contribute to the environment. This would be a lifelong journey, but it needs to start in school.

This is what I could think of at them moment. What is your take on the 21st century learning? Write on the comments below.
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Preparing learners for the 21st century: Are we ready for it?

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The 21st century learners are different than those in the past. This is supported by Mr Lee Sing Kong, director of the Singapore NIE during the National Convention of Teacher Education in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. He talked of how a child can reason over things that we could not expect.

Mr Lee mentioned that there were 4 skills that a teacher must take into consideration when dealing with the 21st century children, namely Respect views of others; build consensus,communication and higher order thinking skills. These are the 4 elements that the learners need to follow the demands of the labour market.

Respect 

When we say respect the views of others, it means that every information is crucial in a discussion. Thus, turn-taking is one of the thing that the learners must practice to make sure that all of the ideas are put into place. This may seem hard when we look into the cultural context of certain place. For a competitive classroom, learners would try to race against another to make heard of their opinions. Thus, respect must be inculcated at the beginning of a lesson, such as setting up rules.

Build consensus

Once respect is taken place, learners must start to collaborate to find solutions to a problem. Consensus can
only be achieved when all parties are satisfied with the ideas presented. This is something uncommon in the past, as learning is always a one-way street and no argument involved. When I was helping out with a company in providing ideas, we had to work in a team and talk about anything that we have in mind. Once these ideas are analysed, we had to compromise on the best to be presented to the boss.

Communication

Learners must talk, get in touch and stay connected with the people around them. In the 21st century, there are many ways to communicate with one another, such as the use of Skype, Hangout and Facebook. Mr Lee also mentioned the term 'Mobile Learning', in which learners can learn anywhere and anytime. This term is quite different than the 'e-learning' that we are exposed to. Mobile learning are often related to learning using mobile devices. Mobile apps can assist learners in their learning. In Singapore, learners are given mobile apps such as "Well Said" so that they can practice their English language proficiency anytime,anywhere.

Higher Order Thinking

Higher order thinking skills is one of the criteria in the TIMSS and PISA tests. TIMSS and PISA are used to look at the performance of participating countries in Science and Mathematics. Higher order thinking skills refer to the ability to use "complex judgement skill", critical thinking skill and problem solving. Through collaboration and discussion, learners are engaged in different ideas and criticism. Thus, learning must not always about getting one ultimate answer, but rather to find different solutions.

Learning Profile

There are 4 things that are included in a learning profile, as mentioned by Mr Lee. They are Experiential, Participatory, Image Driven and Connectedness. They are related to one another. Learners need to experience new things. Learning needs to be visualised and learners need to collaborate in order to learn effectively.

Finally, Mr Lee ended with 7 word slogan, "To mold the future of a nation, teaching must be seen as a profession'. This is honestly true as whatever happens it will be up to the teacher's perception towards his or her job. If we look at ourselves at the same level as researchers and doctors, we might see that this is possible. But if we look at our job as something of a burden, we might consider at leaving the profession to people who are fit for it.

What do you think of the 21st century learning? Are you up for it?

Photos taken from:

http://www.schoolnet.lk/research/mobile_phones_for_teaching_learning_science/
http://sciencetoybox.com/procedur.htm
http://www.clickjobs.com/kofitable/group-discussion.html
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Friday, September 27, 2013

Putting Virtual Learning to its full potential.

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It is interesting to note that Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is becoming a hype in Malaysia. The government is spending a lot to make sure that all schools are equipped with high-speed internet, so that the school would be able to interact with the learners and the community. This is particularly useful to the schools in the interiors as they would be able to interact with learners from all over the country.

The question remains, how much reliable will the VLEs be when it comes to learners' performance. Will the result be improved or it stays the same? At the moment there is no study to show how much the learners have improved from Virtual Learning. However, learners seem to be motivated to come to school as they would like to be logged in and communicate through the virtual environment.

What do you think?

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Green Finger Project.

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I attended the International Conference of Learning and Teaching and presented a power point based on one of the activities using this concept. To have a look at project, click on the link below. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Pon_3Nym9x1SBCsOXC4_wGPmnoVxHDdB8VP38MhjlG0/embed#slide=id.g1cc5252e_0_5 or you can simply go to the blog: http://englishsktbi.blogspot.com Feel free and browse around. In the mean time, please follow this blog for more updates. What do you think of the project?
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Friday, April 12, 2013

Get your first specification manual!

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Get the first specification manual for your blog. It will be updated from time to time. Download the first one here.
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It is a simple concept.

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How do you practice blogbuster? Watch this video to find out about what Mr Raju did with his students.
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