Friday, September 11, 2009

Developing the Five Minds for the Future

Mr Steven Wong from Ngee Ann Secondary School shared the pedagogical approach his school has approached in teaching about the five minds by Howard Gardner through the use of Second Life.

The five minds are:
  1. Disciplinary
  2. Synthesising
  3. Creating
  4. Respectful
  5. Ethical
The project that the school embarked on came about from the idea of an Art teacher who wanted to incorporate mediated immersion based on the idea of an art gallery. This project thus develops the disciplinary mind. Based on this idea, they created their Get SmART gallery in Phase 1 of their island development and posted copyright-cleared pictures in the gallery that required students to communicate their responses based on Thinking Routines (I see, I think, I wonder) about those pictures. They even created a virtual representation of one painting so that students could immerse themselves and predict the emotional states of the painter. One of the ways Steven proposed assessing thinking is by the Six Continua.

In Phase 2 of their island development, they have purchased the teen grid in Second Life and built their own SuperNAS Adventures, a city with their own superheroes (one male and one female - fashioned after the popular Iron Man and Phoenix from X-Men). This project develops the ethical and respectful minds as students make certain choices and decisions based on the scenarios built into the island (e.g. a warehouse catching fire and who to save first).

This is interesting as the structure and elements of games are incorporated and students would be excited to take on the avatars in exploring the city and solving problems, but at the same, questioning their own personal beliefs and values.

One learning point I got from this presentation is that we should think about how the technology/tools/applications could help us teach the discipline in a more effective an engaging manner, so that students think more deeply about the subject matter and pursue understanding at a conceptual level.

We have much to think about as a school but I am hopeful :)

Media Education in Finland

The two speakers for this session came from Tikkurila Upper Secondary School (TUSS), Vantaa, Finland. The first speaker, Ms Heli Toivonen, shared about the media education in Finland while Ms Helmi Abspoel, shared about education in general for TUSS.

Media education is integrated into the education from early childhood and daycare, through to elementary and upper secondary. The scaffolding is done at three levels:
  1. Through play and discussion
  2. Communication and teaching of media skills
  3. Communication and media competence
What is perhaps interesting is how Finland deems media literacy as a citizen's skill and right. They believe that every child should be able to receive, interpret and analyse information from the media and use media as a tool to learn and communicate as forms of social and individual expression.

This is hence made visible in all their subjects. For example, in the study of their native language (Finnish), students study the power of media in the learning of read
ing and writing skills. In History, they look at media texts critically and produce media texts to represent their understanding of history. To help teachers and students use and learn about media in education in TUSS, they develop their own portal (be warned, it is in Finnish).

One learning point I gleaned from the presentation is that we have to look at media literacy at two levels:
  1. How this is to be tackled as a school to make students media literate: we have to explore what media literacy means and communicate the same understanding to the students
  2. How this is scaffolded for students in preparation for tomorrow, be them taking up Media Studies (EL) as an applied subject or as a life skill that they bring along with them

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Facebook as a Multifunctional Online Tool for Collaborative and Engaged Learning in GP

This was a concurrent session that I was very keen to attend as the nature of GP lessons, in terms of content and skills, are pretty similar to that of the Humanities.

The presenter, Daniel Yip, shared on the following features of FB as a teaching tool as follow:

1) Wall Messages and Discussion Board

· for updates on new assignments

· as a forum to consider different perspectives and to take a stand

· students respond to articles, quotations, videos etc. posted by the teacher

· teacher can provide relevant and useful links

· students can critique each other’s posts and contributions

· post questions online to the teacher (e.g. essay outlines, rebuttal structures)

2) Chat function

3) FB applications

· Quiz Creator

· Games

· SlideShare (Ppt, PDF documents) – can be linked to Blogger, Twitter and Delicious etc.

He also mentioned the advantages as well as demerits of using FB as a teaching tool.


1) it is indeed real world connection where you interact and collaborate with people you do know, as compared to other programs which leverage on connections in the virtual world (e.g. Second Life).

2) it caters to the profile and interests of our students today – they are tech-savy and are into online social networking.

3) FB has 250 million users currently, and so there is really a vast potential pool of users whom we can collaborate with in our teaching and learning activities.

Disadvantages (some are posed as questions, open for discussion):

1) the use of informal language may potentially affect students’ ability to code-switch in formal settings subsequently.

2) what will be students’ definition of ‘friends’ over time?

3) possibilities for flaming

4) privacy issues

5) too much time spent online in the ‘3rd home’ after the real home and school

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Use of Video Paper Builder in developing problem solving skills in students for Mathematics by Innova Junior College

The gist:
IJC Maths Department creates an on-line platform for students to view specific mathematics lectures posed on-line by their teachers.

The methodology:
Teachers identify suitable topics that students have problems grasping and create videos.
They include sample questions and solutions for students to analyse and review.

The review:
1. This could be a good learning platforms in the following settings:
- lesson differentiation particularly for students who may need more time to internalise the concepts covered
- students who wanted to view lectures missed
- remediation programme - may be a one-to-one setting with lecturer or classmate as both parties reviewed the lecture again.
[Its a different form of creating a repository of lessons - good however not interactive; students need to post their questions which teachers will respond but not on real time]

2. According to the preliminary survey conducted by IJC, the students found this platform useful and effective for independent study and topic review. IJC did a qualitative analysis of Maths results between 2 tests with the later after the introduction of Video Paper Builder and found a marked improvement in their results.
[However, no substantial evident is provided that the Video Paper Builder is a primary cause of this marked improvement]

3. Teachers effectively use this platform to analyse mistakes created by students.
[This is a novel idea and could be further leverage as an on-line discussion for students to collaboratively discuss and assess common mistakes in Maths papers]

In conclusion, a credible effort by IJC but we already have maths portals such as Hey maths that could be effectively used to assist teachers with the technical aspects. Personally, teachers could help with the design of the curriculum or to facilitate learning.

Learning Points from Opening Address by Dr Cheah Horn Mun

Dr Cheah mentioned that the use of ICT in education in Singapore began with connectivity - setting up the infrastructure to connect resources to the teaching fraternity. It then went on to interactivity, where teachers and students interact more creatively with technology for teaching and learning. He suggested we have moved into the phase of hyperactivity, where we need to achieve a balance between formal and informal learning spaces.