First lesson with this batch of PGDEs

26/08/2008 22:00

I feel great! It was a very engaged session. Maybe a couple of them felt sleepy at some point but by and large we had a very engaged conversation about the "who" are the learners in this course. Off hand I can remember a few characters who left an impression. I shall use pseudonyms here...

Bee Bee told us of her background in Psychology. Sha taught in a primary school for a while. Carie organized team building sessions in her previous job. Christie comes with English and Sociology majors. Guo and Zen are from PE but both have Honours in Geography. Han has done white-water rafting but prefers human Geography. Shaban likes diversity and difference. Bal went back to her alma mater for the ESE and took a thousand pictures of one blow hole. One of the two mins volunteered for the deep dive. Lane was crossed I couldn't remember her name.

That's all I can recall for now. But the diversity of the group was in itself a celebration of the talents that our educational system has produced. I am so looking forward to next session on Friday.

Just before we left, Han posed a question after looking at some sample assignments. She commented "I'm not sure if teachers use lesson plans into teaching". I asked her to raise the issue when everyone was around the next time. In short I told her that teachers with experience have an intuitive lesson plan built in when they teach. That lesson plans are highly useful guiding structures for beginning teachers. Let's see what the rest have to say when we next meet.

so long for now.


I have learned not to ask any questions

26/08/2008 17:30

Can you imagine the horror when I heard "I have learnt not to ask any questions", as I asked my PGDE trainee teachers to tell me in turn what they have learnt for that session!

But I misunderstood, the teacher meant "I have learnt not to ask 'Any Questions?'". She meant that she has learnt not to end off a lesson with a sweeping overall question like "Any Questions?" but to get students reflect on what they have learned. Pheeew!

Well, I rest my case - I need to do a hearing test


Speaking at the Science Center

25/08/2008 12:40

The session last Saturday went very well. Despite heavy rainfall and a rather chilly morning, a good 50 people or so attended the public forum on Climate Change. Most of them were Biology students from NIE but there were definitely non-teachers and non-teacher trainees among the audience. The Q&A was the highlight of the whole forum. One lady, I recall, commented on Singapore's Garden Festival being held indoors in air-conditioning - a huge irony. It reflects how the mind-sets of people have yet to change.


However, the point about environmental education not just about knowledge but skills and values, was well brought across.


Bubbl Brainstorming Tool

06/08/2008 10:11

This came highly recommended from an ex-student who is teaching in a Primary School. He found it extremely useful IT tool for mind-mapping online without having to register, download or do other additional steps. The tool itself is flexible and incorporates many functions such as ease of creating sibling nodes, drawing arrows and changing colour. Give it a try! I found it useful. You can even get students to use it for brianstorming.


Sharing at Zhonghua

28/05/2008 21:01

On 23 May 2007, Check Siew and I shared out experience about the school attachment I did from Januray to march this year. We spoke suring the staff contact time and I was very heartened to see many nods of agreement with the problems, suggestions and learning points we shared. I have listen some of our takeaways here too:


  • Many of the things I teach at NIE will work despite what my trainees tell me.
  • It’s a matter of thinking through carefully and customizing.
  • How much and when to do – to meet own targets
  • Yes, it can be tough and tedious; No, not if you work with someone.
  • Timing of the attachment – good because of new syllabus
  • Term one is good timing for attachment
  • Overall learning experience is important
  • Tap on your own strength in your groups
  • So that you can try out on your own later
  • After teaching for a long time – the experience of having someone looking at it differently is refreshing
  • It is a Win-win situation


In summary we also pointed out about:


  • Content drives pedagogy
  • Thinking on one’s feet
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Working with someone

We will adpat the sharing session as a sharing for a forthcoming forum at SEAGA 2007 ( Do join us there!


Climate and Climate Change for A Levels

04/03/2008 17:26

Last Thursday was Session 2 of 2 for a course titled "Climate and Climate Change for A Levels" that was conducted at Teachers' Network. The sessions went well and I must say that despite the lack of time to cover the range of topics that the teachers' wanted I managed to convince and impress upon the teachers three broad essential questions to guide their further reading into the issues:


1. What causes climate to change on earth?
2. How does climate change affect the physical and human environment?
3. What can we do about it?

Ebe suggested an interesting way to look at these three questions (for other topics as well):

1. What makes the earth tick?
2. What makes the earth sick?
3. How do we "lick" the problem?

This must surely be an indication that Lay Cheng's course on inquiry based learning has paid off.



28/01/2008 21:25

After three weeks of meteorology, I started paleoclimatology with my AAG233 class. We worked from the Mesozoic through to the Holocene.... I was surprised that they forgot their basic geology from year one but the looks of enlightenment at the end was satisfying enough for me.

I also gave the first assignment out in which they were told to "make the biggest cloud possible" using an online temperature profile applet. They all failed miserably as all the clouds went way above the tropopause..... we had a reasonably in-depth discussion of the need to transfer learning from one module to another.... more on this later..... Kalyani beckons for lunch and I will definitely tell her about the class today.


Working with the Experts

11/01/2008 14:00

I was feeling apprehensive about my first lesson with the 3 girls in AAG422 as I fear that I will not be able to sustain their interests for 3 good hours.

This course has to be mounted (even if it was for just 3 students) as these returning teachers have to graduate from the programme. Lay Cheng gave me a great idea and I took it and used it.

We started the session by mapping our epistemology about SS education. In the next third of the class, the students were sent to interview SS educators about their beliefs. After that we met again to revisit the initial positions.

The session went very well and I was glad that it worked very well..


First blog

24/11/2007 03:52

Our new blog has been launched today. Stay focused on it and we will try to keep you informed. You can read new posts on this blog via the RSS feed.


Differentiated Instruction

01/10/2007 18:14

Today marks the last session on DI with the PGDE Jul intake 2007. I am using the time that they are moving around the learning stations to put in this entry.


The overall impression I get from a quick pit stop I did with them earlier this morning was the general lack of enthusiam and belief in using DI in thier classroom. I hope this will change with the hands-on activity. I can't blame them since they have only been lectured to and were only watching videos about DI so far. Hmmmm..... talk about practicing what we preach.

Anyhow, I am quite glad that the level of discussion and engagement right now (as in the moment I am typing this blog) seems very encouraging. They are deciding which DI strategy and we shall see what they have come up with in a while.

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