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Blunders of technology

01/05/2009 23:17

The teleconferencing call had a bad start as internet connection on skype was not as smooth as we had hoped. Phil Klein could hear us but had to type responses throughout the meeting. It was a long meeting which ended way past my usual lunch time. The wait at the café was equally long but Michael and I had another discussion at lunch.

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Presentation at AAG

30/04/2009 23:16

Today’s presentation was well received. No one fell asleep… that’s an indication. But the best part of the presentation was the questions from the floor. I discovered that the AAG’s outreach to Geographical Education and the use of ICT faces the same issues that we face in Singapore as well. GIS use for them is not pervasive, just like our case. There is much to be learnt from their experience and I think there is also a lot of room for collaboration in terms of research. What I will hope to do after I return is to collaborate with Dr. Susan Gallagher who works along very similar lines as I do on some possible research projects.

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A chat with Matt Hamilton, Developing Regions Membership Program Coordinator

29/04/2009 07:57

It's day 2 at the AAG and I have settled in. I work from Michael Solem's office conference table. AAG staff are situated in a very cosy building on 16th Street NW with 3 storeys, a basement and an attic. The pantry is in the basement where Michael and I have been having lunch for the last couple of days. The first storey has a large conference room in the front and offices in the back. Offices populate the 2 other storeys and the attic.

Over the last two days, I have been working with Michael on the AAG Center for Global Geography Education. While Michael works on editing the modules, I was experimenting on the navigation system for this online portal for Gegoraphy learning modules for university undergraduate studies. Michael has also introduced me to all the staff members at AAG and been chatting with me about Singapore's education system and the place of Geography in our curriculum. Working in the same room means lots of opportunities to talk about all aspects of Geography Education.

This afternoon I spoke with Matt Hamilton, Developing Regions Membership Program Coordinator about the My Community, Our Earth Project: Geographic Learning for Sustainable Development (MyCOE) project. The project is a partnership to encourage youth to use geographic tools and concepts to address local issues of sustainability. It is an outreach programme in which the mission of the project is to help people build networks in ESD. I promised that I will bring the message back to SEAGA and invited him to consider bringing some delegates for the Hanoi meeting in 2010.

More work tomorrow.

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First few days at AAG

28/04/2009 23:15

Michael and I had a long lunch discussion today on the questions raised by the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant application that we have submitted to collaborate on organizing a 3 day workshop in Singapore. In general, the questions raised were more logistical in nature than academic. We spent some time and finally came up with a response which we will discuss with the other collaborators on our conference call on Friday.

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Reflecting on the Texas A&M trip

24/04/2009 20:00

Mission accomplished. I've just come back from dinner with the Geography Department staff and graduate students. Tonight they were celebrating Nickki's successful proposal defense.

Sarah and Bob were such good hosts. During my stay I was able to understand more about the University education system, Professional Development for Geography teachers and Geography teaching and learning in the classroom. I have attened quite a few seminars and conducted a few good interviews. I was also able to use the Texas A&M electronic journal database and read a few good articles. It was really a very fruitful study trip.

 

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Dinner with the Bednarzes

23/04/2009 02:22

This was a kinda farewell dinner with Sarah and Bob Bednarz. I thanked them for being such wonderful hosts. On to DC on Saturday! More news then.

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Drive to San Marcos

20/04/2009 20:21

Today I had a very long drive to San Marcos. Met Dr Richard Boehm, Dr Osvaldo Muiz and Ms Waverly Ray. There was a very fruitful discussion and I might have convinced GCGE to sponsor some people to the Hanoi 2010 meet

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Teaching at A&M High

15/04/2009 22:55

I had a very tiring day today I taught periods 1,3,4 and 5 for a total of 4 periods. Debbie Lange, Zandy Putsay, Debbi Robertson and Chris Diem's classes came in and I told them about Singapore. I framed the lesson around "How did Singapore develop and prosper despite the differences in the people's race, language and religion". I receieved many questions but they were all very interested to find out more about Singapore.

 

Over lunch hour I also managed to intervew Debbie Lange, Zandy Putsay &  Debbi Robertson on their views about Geography teachers professional development in TExas. I gained some interesting insights too.

 

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Texas A&M Consolidated High School

14/04/2009 22:54

I observed 4 classes today and will teach 4 classes tomorrow at the Texas A&M consolidated high school. All the classes were grade 10 classes, except for one which is the Advance Placement class for Human Geography. Unfortunately this was their TAKS week. Which means, they were all going through revision for their paper. The paper is 50% Geography and 50% American History. I had a glimpse of the type of content that students learn. My sense of it is that although the paper emphasized a range of cognitive skills such as application, analysis and understanding, most of the observations during the classes indicate that recall of information was the dominant cognitive process at work in these tests. Here are some photos I've taken of the school and the classes I attended.

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Conversations

14/04/2009 04:53

Today I had conversations with two Geography Graduate students. I interviewed one of them on the role of Professional Development in Geography Education here in Texas. The insights he provided were useful. Of particular note is his comment on the need for collaboration among teachers. Teachers learning from each other. He also emphasized the need for more experienced teachers to mentor beginning teachers - one of the concepts of professional development he mentioned. The chat with the other graduate student allowed me to understand more about the American University system. Of course, I shared a good deal of the University system in Singapore with her as well. All this over a cup of café mocha. Sometimes the more fruitful learning we engage in are in informal settings, don’t you agree?

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