Thursday, September 29, 2005

My microteaching

Finally back to post.
About what? Microteaching. Heh. Yes, my turn to get 'sabo-ed'... heh. No lah. It's a learning experience which I treasure.
Was rather sapped off my energy today... not cos I was stressed over the actual teaching and the possible tricks that the 'students' would play... but from the planning and the lack of sleep.


Anyway, I addressed water pollution today, pitched at Sec 2 Express. I used Captain Planet as the theme, a strategy of using pop culture to interest students and to set the context. I dunno how well the context was set. Actually my gut tells me I could have done better. Blame it on the energy level. Energizer bunny mode would have worked better. =) However, I do wonder if it's too old a cartoon for the present generation. In any case, I could introduce it to them and mebbe show them a small cip or something. Did want to do that, but couldn't find clips. And there was the time factor as well. Can't afford to squeeze so many things into a 70 min slot. Also, I was wary over the fact that too much reference to the cartoon might confuse the kids. More thinking and planning should have been devoted so as to better incoporate it into the lesson without the risk of confusion.

Talking about time factor, I had to gloss over the contents of the lesson today, cos I wanted to try out the group activity. But one thing bad was that, without the content, (not that we dunno the content, but many of us have forgotten our content) it might be a little tough to role-play cos there are no facts provided! Though in a real-case scenario, the causes and effects would have been covered in the lesson, and their notes on the worksheet. Too bad I din get to allow a group to present. What I had in mind was for the group to role-play, and the other students to jot down notes, especially of the solutions generated. And after each role-play, I would get them to contribute to the pointers being brought out during the role-play, and collate them on the board so that they all have the notes. And then I will use that to jump into the next lessons, where I will focus on solutions. I know certain students might find it hard to envision how to role-play cause, effect and solutions. But seriously, a little creativity will do. Cos I did think about this, and I believe it is possible. And more importantly, FUN! Hahhaha!

The worksheet. Actually I was wondering if the worksheets were too open-ended. With lots of empty boxes. First reaction students get might be, "Sian. Need to write so much." But then I was reminded of how they should learn to take notes and take ownership of their learning. If we just provided them the powerpoint slides, or allowed them to just fill in keywords here and then, that's spoonfeeding. Not that spoonfeeding is really a no-no, but at least they are learning an essential skill of taking notes when it is left open-ended. It allows them to interpret and understand the info being presented to them, then they jot it down in their own words. Cos some pointers on my slides only included the definition of keywords, and not the explanation process. So students will have to pay attention. The down side is that, more time has to spent to allow them to digest along the way.

I could have given clearer instructions on what to do during the group discussion. Actually it was simple. Just role-play the causes, effects and solutions (which you have to generate) relating to the category noted in the piece of paper. ("sheet", not "sh**") But maybe I could have reiterated the instructions after I got everyone's attention, and before and after the leaders draw lots.

Regarding the explanation of washing and flushing, I could have done better lah! Haha. Sorry to confuse you Wes! I was actually trying to say that flushing need not mean toilet flushing. It can be flushing water into the drains, etc. I know it's confusing with "washing", but washing can mean washing lots of things too. Like "xi2 jiao3", like how our chinese comrades put it. =)

Oh. The projector worked against me. Oops. I mean, I dunno how to use the projector! Thanks AV rep for helping me! I wasted lots of time there. I should have just launched straight into the role-play and forego the powerpoint, instead of fiddling with it and leaving the kids unoccupied. Bad move. But I had faith in that projector! Which decided to play me out... Hahah! Oh well...

Classroom management

Erm. I think I din handle it too well. Cos there were so many small pockets of problems occurring at the same time that I hardly had time to finish solving one before others popped up. Then I had to prioritise. Like how I was helping Wes's group, then chouchou and Janinah stood up and complained that they din wanna work with their chinese tong2 zhi4. In the midst of that, janinah whacked D. And KF's group needed clarification. Hahaha! Mind boggling I must say. I think I need more copies of bananasaviour! But then again, I'm glad all these happened, such that I got a rather authentic simulation.

Let me start of with CY's 'slashing' of her wrist. It was hilarious to see her red pen marks. But that's beside the point. I'm glad it wasn't a suicidal slash where it cuts the artery and the ambulance has to be called and stuff. Just the minor one. My priority was to not blow things out of proportion and alarm the whole class or the people around her, such that she'll be ostracised in future or something. Good thing is LY and K noticed, and I was informed. It's always in times like this that i wished teachers were always informed of such behaviour. At least we can start counselling. Before something drastic happens. (I'm actually glad LY din go hysterical on me when I asked her to help stop CY's possible bleeding. But if I ascertain that the cuts were bad, I would send her to the sickbay with LY to get it treated.

Confiscating superlambanana's pointer when LL and Jo were actually the ones playing with it. Confiscation and warning were the first 2 things that came to my mind. After I asked LL to give me the pointer, I knew that I could not relent and not confiscate the pointer, even though it was superlambanana's. Or else I would be deemed as a pushover. The most I could do was assure him that I knew it was not his fault and that I was not punishing him. (He din need his pointer then anyway!) Though I think I might not have communicated it too well to him. Hmm.

Cheeky smart alecks, lubricants and colonal irrigation. Hmm. Haha! That was fun actually, and I was very thankful that it was no more explicit than it had been. Frankly, I have never heard of colonal irrigation before this. Firstly, I thought Chris meant "colonial irritation", then "colonial irrigation". The impression I had was that of irrigation introduced by colonialists! Far far from it, it seems! Hee. I somehow still had to communicate that I treasure their input, yet be careful not to go along with their purpose. Yeah, so it was interesting.

China comrades. Hilarious! Especially when I spotted that YZ and swallowapple had written their chinese names on the worksheet! Hahah! But yeah, I knew the first rule is to NOT communicate with them in Chinese, or else i would have fallen into the trap of not being able to enforce English in my class. But they were really persistent in their Chinese... even to the extent of translating everything into Chinese! All I could do was to stand firm and make sure that they understand my requirement, and to continually enforce it. But I guess the main problem posed was when they proved too much for chouchou and Janinah, such that they were adamant on changing groups. I couldn't allow that to happen, or it would cause a greater rift between them, the rest of the class and the china dolls. I could only encourage them to be more open-minded, generous and accepting. Luckily Chris was the middleman. How do we effectively assimilate these kids into the group? I guess the value of inclusion should be taught in the classroom, and an accepting environment should be created. Individual differences. Refer to ed psych class. Heh.

One thing that got me thinking today was my style. I think I adopt a a hyper-active approach, the fun-loving teacher which aims to bring about a fun classroom experience and willing to incorporate any idea to make teaching and learning fun. And order and management would fall back on standards and rules which I will not compromise. Like vulgarities, insults, negative criticism (paradox?), etc. But will I lose control and allow the kids to climb all over me? Was just wondering if that was the case today, when there were so many little pockets of problems. Being strict and firm is good. But I always feel bad for being fierce, therefore I cannot carry a strict disposition (not for long), and may come across as just jovial and a 'friend'.

K I've written a thesis. Ridiculous. Haha. Anyway, it's a good and fun learning opportunity. Thank you to my fellow geogers for not sabotaging me too badly! Luckily geognut was my observer! =)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dear Pastor

Dear Pastor, I would like to go to heaven someday because I know my brother won't be there. Stephen. Age 8, Chicago

Dear Pastor, I know God loves everybody but He never met my sister. Yours sincerely, Arnold. Age 8, Nashville.

Dear Pastor, Please say in your sermon that Peter Peterson has been a good boy all week. I am Peter Peterson. Sincerely, Pete. Age 9, Phoenix

Dear Pastor, My father should be a minister. Every day he gives us a sermon about something. Robert Anderson, age 11

Dear Pastor, I'm sorry I can't leave more money in the plate, but my father didn't give me a raise in my allowance. Could you have a sermon about a raise in my allowance? Love, Patty. Age 10, New Haven

Dear Pastor, My mother is very religious. She goes to play bingo at church every week even if she has a cold. Yours truly, Annette. Age 9, Albany

Dear Pastor, I think a lot more people would come to your church if you moved it to Disneyland. Loreen. Age 9. Tacoma

Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon where you said that good health is more important than money but I still want a raise in my allowance. Sincerely, Eleanor. Age 12, Sarasota

Dear Pastor, Please pray for all the airline pilots. I am flying to California tomorrow. Laurie. Age 10, New York City

Dear Pastor, I hope to go to heaven someday but later than sooner. Love, Ellen. Age 9, Athens
Dear Pastor, Please say a prayer for our Little League team. We need God's help or a new pitcher. Thank you. Alexander. Age 10, Raleigh

Dear Pastor, My father says I should learn the Ten Commandments. But I don't think I want to because we have enough rules already in my house. Joshua. Age 10, South Pasadena

Dear Pastor, Who does God pray to? Is there a God for God? Sincerely, Christopher. Age 9, Titusville

Dear Pastor, Are there any devils on earth? I think there may be one in my class. Carla. Age 10, Salina

Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon on Sunday. Especially when it was finished. Ralph, Age 11, Akron

Dear Pastor, How does God know the good people from the bad people? Do you tell Him or does He read about it in the newspapers? Sincerely, Marie. Age 9, Lewiston

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Jo's micro-teaching

Level: Sec 1 Express
Topic: Rocks
Strategy: Rock samples and worksheet

In Jo's class, everyone seemed to have some pent-up energy which was bursting to be released! I myself was hyper-active (yeah, forgot to take my ADHD medicine!) and even the usually guai ones seemed to be on cloud nine and broke loose! Hahah! Mebbe it was a Fri, and the beginning of a supposed break... I dunno.

But poor Jo was left with so little time she had to start in the middle of the class. And then there were technical difficulties and all. But what I liked was that it was a very hands-on lesson... it's the best way to introduce students to rocks. However, mebbe due to instructions and her petite size and voice and our hyperactivity, we were really disruptive. I guess we should never trust young kids with water. Was just wondering what kids would do if we trusted them with water (even if it's just one drop). One they will definitely spill it all over the place. Two they will play with water. My pet Rock fish. Hahahaha! It's just too tempting. You have a bag and water, and a rock. What do you do? *grin* Sorry ah... I was just being naughty. It has nothing to do with Jo's instructions. And taking the rock out of the bag will definitely cause confusion. Mebbe the rocks and the bags should be labelled with mebbe sample 'A', 'B' and so on?

Worksheet... I couldn't understand the rationale of the colour. So what if I wrote down black, white and grey for the granite? It doesn't mean anything. And the drawing of the texture just din make sense. The obvious thing to do is to trace it like the bark of the tree. Mebbe some examples should have been given beforehand or mebbe more description on that instruction? But then she did ask the class if there was anything we didn't understand. Maybe it could have be pre-empted? I think CY's comment on the 'soft rock' was ingenious. I can totally picture students asking that. But I'm sure Jo would have covered it in the beginning of the lesson that we had missed.

Truancy. WH and I went out to throw the tissue. She walked on and on, in search for a big dustbin. I mentioned that she could throw it in a small bin, but she replied, "Whatever. I'm not going back." Hahaha! What happened to our usually guai WH?? =) Hmm... Is it right to send kids out to look for their classmates? Can we trust them to do that? For one, it didn't work when chouchou was sent to look for us, cos it was an opportunity for her to leave class and play. And if we dun send someone to look for them, are we sending the message that kids can just disappear from class? I think what is important is to take note of the kids' names... and have a good talk with them. Get to the bottom of why they skipped class. And see if we can work round it after instilling into them that it is wrong and irresponsible to do so. If we show that we care, and that what they are learning is relevant, it should work. This was what my CT taught me on handling truancy cases.

Confiscation. I think we should always protect ourselves when we confiscate things. Draw parellels to OBsunsetLY's confiscation of EZlink cards. It'll be trouble if we dun notice students 'stealing' their own stuff from us and then demanding that we return it to them after class. We might be accused of theft! As superlambanana suggested, it's best to put it into our bags, or place it on the board when we confiscate it. (But if we put it on the board, we have to remember it!)

Oh, I felt that Jo kinda ignored us when we tried to ask questions. Maybe we were too soft? I dunno. But I tried to ask her questions twice, but was ignored. I noticed someone asking her too... but she kinda bo-chup. Maybe the class was too luan, and we din ask properly... But I felt picked on. Initally after she gave out the rock samples, Wes did something and everyone at our table laughed. But Jo shouted my name, as if I had done something naughty again. I am innocent! Now I understand why certain naughty students always give up, or are frustrated in class because they get picked on by the teachers, even though they are being guai. Teachers should always be alert and pay attention to the naughty kids and their potential mischief, but we should also give them some credit, so as not to totally condemn them. Or we might lose them in an attempt to win them over.

I cun comment anymore cos I wasn't in class! But I did hear of the rock-and-roll music, soft rock koala, ballet classes and scissors-paper-stone! Hahaha! What fun!

A day at NIE

I bought my Apple ibook today. YAY!! Finally. Thanks to superlambanana for clearing my doubts.

My creative mp3 went scuba-diving and drowned.
Hence I was in a little foul mood in the morning and got irritated at comments by 2 boys in class. Argh. And then it was topped off by the ringing of the New York bell by our tutor. Reminded me of what Ray said about us being cows going "moooooo" when the bell rang. Argh! Got so much on my nerves I wanted to smash that innocent-looking toy! When it ended up in my hands, I twisted the wire in it so that it would ring no more. Not a permanent damage though. I'm not up to that kind of malice. Hee. (I think the tutor got the idea, cos she no longer rang it.)

But at the next class, I got even more irritated by the tutor who spoke in spurts about various stuff. She doesn't organise her thoughts before she speaks. And talks about different unrelated things all the time, when we are supposed to be working on our presentations. And if you ask her a question, she goes one whole big round and sometimes you end up at the same point if you are lucky. If not, you end up at Pasir Ris, if initially you were at Ang Mo Kio! I thought maybe it's just me being in a foul mood. But then I talked to my classmates and realised that they had all switched off and had not listened to a single thing she had said. And this isn't the first time. I must make conscious effort to make sure I never become like her.

But my day improved when I rushed to buy my ibook and had a little rest and social interaction before class. Thanks to buddy who SMSed me thru out the day to keep me sane too!

I really enjoyed Geog class today. There were many tips and pointers which I am happy to learn about. Such as tutor K's basketball moves in teaching grid references. I will try that myself. For 4-digit grid reference, first you dodge to the right (easting), then u jump up (northing). I guess for 6-digit, you can dodge to the right, jump up and then try to aim for the basket. Instead of jumping a little to the right, which I cannot fathom why. Yet. And bringing in the decimal analogy for 6-digit references. Like 44 'point' 6, 55 'point' 3. But we have to remember to remove the decimal terminology once the students internalize the idea, before they get it stuck into their heads!

K shall go for lunch.

Update on micro-teachings

Aiyoh. Haven't written for so long... I think I should restart the engine again.
Since my last entry, WH, Sir Elzap, K, Mas and Miss Teo have had their hands dirty at teaching us. Wow! That's how backdated I am!

Anyway, what struck me was superlambanana's courteous handling of congenial Sec 5 loanshark: D. "Thank you", "gentleman", "I dun want to say 'thank you' a fourth time" (even though it WAS the 4th time) were all used, to good effect. Thank you Elzap for demonstrating so well. And his choice in allowing students have some freedom in his class, as long as they are not too distracted is a move which I buy to myself.

vintagemz's virtual fieldtrip was incredible... filled with sounds and pics, a fieldtrip journal worksheet and making us act as environmentalists designing an anti-pollution poster. Great activity to sum up everythng the students have learnt. And she was just so nice, firm yet gentle... making you wanna learn and do the best for the teacher. Her firmness was demonstrated in her making all of us remain standing after greeting her, so that she could ask us revision questions. (Good move.) Reminded me of my Physics teacher and Chinese teachers who stressed us out so much we could break out in cold sweat! I liked the way she defined nature reserve and the description of it being "1/2 of Sentosa". Acknowledging the students' possible poor sense of spatial dimensions and addressing it with something familiar... hmmm. Yeah, all in all, I desired to be a teacher's pet. Hahaha! Great lesson Mas!

Miss Teo ah... SUPER FIERCE! Her stares threaten to throw a dozen daggers and pierce right through you. *shiver* I was basically traumatized. Was wondering if crying cos the teacher is so scary was practical. I decided not to. So yeah, class management was basically settled. Hee. Miss Teo's lesson was very well thought through, I felt. She emphasized on the basics of map reading - grid references. She introduced us to the eastings and northings and drilled us pretty well. I liked the pre-prepared mahjong paper which illustrated the grid points. The L-shaped labelled 1 and 2 was clear on the worksheet as well. (Thanks to OBsunsetLY for the analogy of 'you learn to crawl before you walk'. Took me a while to get it. But once I did, it'll stay with me, I think.)

The best was the labelling off of us students and getting us to identify each other through grid references. (Though more rows would have done the job better... but since the class is structured in that inflexible way.... it's understandable.) Getting Wes to be the West demonstrates great flexibility and the ability of Miss Teo to think from the students' point of view. She is also adept at turning situations into learnable points, such as Chris's use of maps to 'find treasure' and grabbing the opportunity of Rak's loss of wallet to preach about being careful and responsible about one's belongings. I leatnt alot. Thanks Miss Teo. (Please dun stare at me anymore...)

Hmm, searching of bags... I think the student should never be allowed to touch another student's bag, and never given the liberty to search their bags, esp since she is the one who is the victim and the accuser. Mebbe the teacher should check it herself. But the teacher standing closely and watching the student check is also feasible, I guess. As long as the teacher is alert and neutral. Another issue is allowing Wes's bag to be checked. Does this mean that a student can just accuse anyone and demand that their bags be checked? Is there a fairer option than that? Like checking everyone's bags? (Though it'll be time-consuming...)

Yep, that's all for now.