Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I shall begin this blog with a quote from Albert Einstein™ which was quoted by Dr Yeap:

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." Apparently, this sign hanging in Einstein's office at Princeton.

For me, I love another quote of Einstein™: A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?"

Dr Yeap began our lesson by throwing us a challenge in the form of a performance assessment. He took us on a mini field trip and asked us to measure the height of a tall column which looked like a Doric column. It was like having an adventure in the dark as we grope and grapple to find sensible solutions.

The different ways of approaching and solving this task were discussed when back in the classroom. As usual, as Dr Yeap led in the discussion, there was never a totally 'wrong' answer. We were always encouraged to voice out our opinions, concerns and queries.

Some of the things I need to re-think:

1. The way mental sums are carried out in my school

I much prefer 'mental strategies' to 'mental sums'. Quite often, I work out sums intuitively and mentally. In so doing, I give my brain cells a form of exercise, which I believe will keep my brain from getting rusty as age catches up!

2. More holistic assessment to support learning (PERI Report, chapter 3, Pp 34-37)

Sometimes, I get the strong impression that all we teachers care about regarding an assessment, especially the SAs, is how many passes, how many failures, how many quality passes, and WHY (particularly when the number of passes is appallingly low)!

3. The frequency I give professional opinions to parents and the contents therewith

I'd like to give a report on my pupils' learning as often as a topic is covered and tested. I intend to put into practice Dr Yeap's suggestion of using a 3-column table that list the key competencies and the short phrases to be used to inform parents whether their charges are proficient in 'a limited number of tasks', 'familiar tasks', or 'a variety of tasks'.

I'd like the report to be honest, and not sugar-coated so that the pupils' and their parents' feelings are not hurt. Otherwise, it will merely be a waste of time, I figure.

If I do this next year, I wonder if I will 'spoil market' and irk parents? :)

4. The method used by pupils when doing addition

I was recently mildly irritated when I asked a 9-year-old pupil for the answer to (15+20), and she did a vertical addition to obtain the answer. Surely, she has encountered such an addition sum before, say, when she bought something for 15cents and 20cents, and she knew the total was 35cents. But she did not remember ever doing so.

I'll have to be even more vigilant in my observation of my pupils when they are doing work in the classroom. But, honestly, my pupils hardly have time to do written work in class since I use almost all the time for teaching!

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