Tuesday, November 30, 2010

AKM101 and Me

Last night was the last night for AKM101. It was a bittersweet moment. We were glad that the first semester is finally over but sad that we had to part for a while. My coursemates and I have really bonded well these past weeks. I truly enjoyed their company. The next time I see them is next year. Can't wait!

We had THE TEST last night. It was something that I didn't really expect. My mind went blank the moment I received the paper. I didn't know how to answer the questions. I looked around and saw so many of my classmates furiously writing down their answers. It panicked me for a while. At last, I started on mine. Well, we shall see how we fared in a few weeks' time when results are released.

Let me use this space now to talk about my takeaways from this course.

Dr Yeap. I admire the passion he has in him. You can see from his actions, the way he talks, the way he plans his lessons that he truly enjoyed what he's doing. He defines the word 'teacher'. He has become my role model. I am trying to model the way he scaffolds his lessons, and the way he guides us to being better students, and ultimately better teachers.

The problem-solving activities that Dr Yeap introduced are always interesting, engaging and mind-boggling. Hahaha! I can't believe I'm a teacher when sometimes I get stumped over these activities. Guess what? I shared some of the card tricks of Dr Yeap with my colleagues during one of our sharing sessions. I did the spelling of numbers using cards in front of my colleagues but I was so nervous that some of the cards fell to the floor. Thank God, I made it to the last card!

Another thing that I learnt a lot was professional development and lesson study. I thought that lesson study are just a waste of time, another observation to do. After listening to Dr Yeap, I realise that lesson study is a wonderful way of improving your lesson by collaborating with your colleagues. If every teacher embarks on lesson study, imagine the number of well-planned, well-executed lessons there are.

All in all, this course has broadened my mind on what it takes to be a teacher. From initiatives, to lesson planning, to professional development, to engaging and interacting, I have learned that as time evolved, we have to evolve too. To be a better teacher, the teacher must put in effort to be a better pupil.

With that, thank you Dr Yeap. Thank you, my friends. Till we meet again.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Our 2nd Face-To-Face

Another lesson and boy, it was full of thinking and more thinking! The Math games that Dr Yeap showed us were very interesting and stimulating to the mind. I could actually feel my brain working. I enjoyed the game of Salute and Arranging The Cards very much. Salute is so simple but it forces the player to revise the concepts of multiplication and division. Arranging The Cards involves a lot of creativity.

Through these activities, a point was raised and it really makes me ponder. It is not what we teach, it is how we teach. This is my takeaway for the lesson. And if I always keep this takeaway close to my heart, I will become a better teacher.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Thoughts On AKM101 So Far

I've never done this before in my whole entire life! So here goes...

1st Lesson - 1st Tutorial (7 Sept 2010)
I came to class filled with much anticipation and trepidation. I couldn't wait to find out what AKM101 was all about. At the same time, I was worried that my name would be called to answer questions for my brain wasn't working well that day (let's blame it on a hard day filled with meetings!).

When I left the class, I realised that in just under 3 hours, I did learn a lot, especially when Dr Yeap talked about the essence of guiding questions. What he said made me opened my eyes to the true meaning of guiding questions.
  1. Guiding questions act as scaffolds for pupils.
  2. If these questions do not have the property of being removed, then they are not good guiding questions.
  3. As teachers cum facilitators of lessons, we do not want our pupils to be dependent on guiding questions.
I never thought of guiding questions in that way before, espcially Point 2. I started to do a self-reflection on whether I've been fielding good guiding questions to my pupils all this while. Now, I am more conscious on the kind of questions I ask my pupils and I hope with this takeaway, I have improved a little as a teacher.

2nd Lesson - 1st Group Meeting (14 Sept 2010)
My first group meeting with Wan Lee, Jeannette, Swarna and Vincent. We worked well together, I'm glad! We dissected and analysed our project and planned on what to do and how to do it. We decided to divide the work up. That's one cooperative learning we were using - Expert Group!

I was tasked to find educational initiatives from the 2003 to 2005. It was quite a headache as everything and anything and nothing seemed like an initiative to me. Finally, I narrowed down to a few crucial ones - "Compulsory Education", "Teach Less, Learn More" and "Support For Children With Special Needs".

I hope I'm on the right track.

3rd Lesson - 2nd Group Meeting (21 Sept 2010)
We met up and each of us showed off our newfound knowledge of Singapore's educational initiatives to each other. What an overload of information. Soon, we felt lost, we didn't know what to do. There were so many 'initiatives', we didn't know which were the right ones. Were we going in the right direction?

We decided to stop and focus our minds so we won't go off tangent. It was a good move. We decided to show how these initiatives have impacted Math teaching and learning.

4th Lesson - 3rd Group Meeting (28 Sept 2010)
Yeah! Our project is ending soon! After deciding to narrow down our focus of our project, we divided our work. Today was supposed to be the day we put them all together. We checked on each others inputs and gave our ideas and opinions. It's great fun to work with people who accept your ideas and are always willing to refine them!

We got some videos but our editing skills are BAD! None of us knew much about editing a video. So Swarna, being a gentleman that he was, volunteered to find help back in his school. Vincent, Jeanette, Wan Lee and I did the checking and rechecking of slides.

What hard work we put in! At the end of the day, we knew we were almost done, just tying up of loose ends.

5th Lesson - 4th Group Meeting (5 Oct 2010)
We met at a new place this time (a restaurant, not McD!) with our notes and laptops. I arrived late as work was piling up in school. I can't wait for this project to be over! But this project allowed me to know and understand the education system better and the policies that drive the groundwork. Cos teachers usually see the micro view, thus this project let us have a big picture of Singapore's education.

We put together our slides and video. We realised we needed to make some changes as there were too many slides! The video has been edited but we decided to tweak some parts of it to suit our project. I volunteered to craft the last part of our project.

So we decided to meet again for the last time on Thursday for the final consolidation!

5th Group Meeting (7 Oct 2010)
Our last meet-up! We need to finish this by today! We met at 7pm and I confidently proclaimed that we would be done by 8.30pm, latest. I was so wrong!

We ran into a few glitches. We tidied up the slides. There were many slides to tidy! It was quite a headache. The final version of the video was up and ready but it was not saved in the correct format to be uploaded onto the PowerPoint slides. There was a heart attack moment when we thought we could not embed the video into the slides. Thankfully, Wan Lee's husband (THANK YOU!) saved the day. He did some computer magic and tada!

The summarising, the tidying up the uploading and the video took up a lot of time. Then the REAL HEART ATTACK MOMENT came. Silly me forgot to save the newly formated video in my thumbdrive. It was saved in one of the folders in the computer. Silly me did not bring the laptop charger along with me cos I thought we would not be long. So when the battery life became too low, I switched off my laptop and used Vincent's. Can you guess what silly me forgot to do? Yes! The video!

Thus, when we wanted to upload, we realised that there was no video! And I panicked! And all hell broke loose! Hahahaha! There was a technical difficulty while uploading too.......

Lesson learnt! Always save work in thumbdrive!!!

But I am so glad to say we're done with our first assignment! Yeah! And I absolutely enjoyed working with my group! They're the BEST!

6th lesson - 2nd Tutorial (12 Oct 2010)
Today's my second lesson with Dr Yeap. I wonder what he has in store for us today? More puzzles to solve? More questions to ask? More riddles to tickle our grey matter? I am looking forward to it.