Sunday, February 26, 2006

Reflection 4: SAIL - Strategies for Active and Independent Learning

I heard about this...

The first I heard about SAIL was a couple of years ago, when it was piloted with the EL dept at Ngee Ann. The 2nd time I heard about it was the implementation in Home Economics lessons last year. Came to know more about it when wanted to get some ideas on its assessment, to see if there's any good practices that can be considered for BLS. There was no 'formal encounter' of SAIL, but the notion is... it's going to create an impact on all instructional programmes, not just core, but elective subjects too... But what is it exactly?

This 'reflection homework' promotes me to dig more to read about it... {see below for some useful links}

Trying to link...

Theresa took quite a while to share her experience of integrating SAIL into the teaching of F&N last year and this year... It's pupil focus, definitely... and driving towards independent learning! Self-evaluation, self-review, self-improvement, ownership, rubrics, openness in assessment... these are some words that I can associate SAIL with.

This reminds me of this new thing I came across last year, introducing new modes of assessment to Mathematics - Journal writing, something along the same line, too!

Something that catch my attention when reading the speech by the minister at the launch of the monograph on SAIL (dated 25 March 2004). That is:

  • ... the critical shifts will be in how students learn, how actively they think for themselves, and how they interact with their teachers and peers in the course of teh day. That will determine the quality of their learning, whichever the pathway they choose...
  • ...The SAIL approach aims to engage our students in active and reflective learning, and nurture independent learning habits...
  • ...The approach emphasizes learning as a formative and development process, in which instruction and assessment point the way students to learn...

What else to take note of...

  • Broad statements of learning and expectations
  • Tasks that provide scope for students to learn and demonstrate knowledge, skill and attitudes articulated in these statements of learning and expectations
  • Assessment tools that spell out the various dimensions for evaluating students' performance in their tasks, as well as teh levels of attainment for each dimenions.

On top of that...

  • Teachers will provide opportunities for students for the use of the assessment criteria to evaluate their own work adn that of their peers

On the other hand...

  • "... it is essentially a way in which a teacher can help a student to take responsibility for his own learning..."

How would we do this? We are going to change the way classes are run... we are going to introduce new strategies to excite the students... What are the implications the new approach has on the final assessments?

How do students perceive it? They are ready for the changes? Most of them? What advantages do they see in the education system returning them their 'onus' and responsibility to learn and do well?

In the first place, how many will see the responsibility of learning is theirs by default? Over the years, many of us have taken over the responsibility from students... especially when we drive students to meet the targets (set by who? school? dept? ourselves? or students themselves?) So, who sets and owns the targets at the end of the day? It seems, for many of us, like it's been our responsibilities to make sure students 'learn' (or being able to answer to the questions in the exam papers).


Slides by CPDD (intranet):

Other useful Websites:

Reflection 3: SEED - Strategies for Effective Engagement and Development of Pupils in Primary Schools

There are 5 dimensions to SEED:
1. Intentional 2. Curricula 3. Structural 4. Pedagogical 5. Evaluative

The Impression I get...
SEED is inter-disciplinary... it blurs the lines between subjects and adopts an integrated and authentic approach towards learning. And fun is injected in the learning process - the affective element that helps to bring the acquisition of skills in a different way... against the conventional way.

It promotes a structure-free environment for learning. Through this, subject-content learning is no longer compartmentalised... and it's a step to close the gap of the learning environment and actual environment where application takes place.

The end product of the education system is not one who holds a certificate that endorses he has completed 10 years of schooling, but a young adult who is ready to apply the set of "survival skills" he has acquired in the course of learning and his readiness to face the challenges to come.

On the other hand...
- Are we, the teachers ready to adopt a style that we personally did not go through {the lack of experiencing it? Are we convinced enough (buy-in)? Are we confident enough to deliver in a new way?
- How's the learning going to affect the way children learn as they move on to the more crucial levels like Primary 6?
- How the parents cope with these changes? Their mental models - old beliefs vs demands of the new educational arena. Are they prepared enough to provide the level of support they used to give to their children - in terms of help to children in their learning? (sense of competency, security)
- How about the IT component... how does it come in? What's the best way to integrate or bring in IT in teaching and learning now? What's the potential of IT here? What are the openings for IT?

Reflection 2: NIE Paper - Engaged Learning: Making an Authentic Experience

At last... started browsing through the 15-page article in the MRT on my way to work... it's going to take some time to scan every word and to digest... How I wish it comes in the audio or video format! hahaha... something a slow-reader like me dreams of...

Well, well well, that reminds me of the slip from the fortune cookie I got in Feb that says..."Read more! You might find a solution to a problem while reading. 开卷有益,翻翻书本, 会找到解决难题的方法。"
Hey, the stuff from p9 seems similar to that in the new Tech Guide... OK, I shall complete this section in a few instalments...

Reflection 1: Talk by David Hung

My Wonders...
How does the Community of Practice (CoP) come about? What brings these people together? What do they want to get out of the CoP?

What I Learn & What I Think...
The CoP is a group of people who share a common goal:

To start off with, each individual who joins the CoP has some personal objective(s) to achieve and hopes that what the CoP hopes to achieve aligns with his/her own agenda. This desire to know, to find out initiates the first move (to the CoP). As mentioned during the talk, he/she becomes the peripheral members. They believe that, through this interactive platform, the needs will be met eventually, depending on the level of participation.

On the other hand, can we conclude that the members of the CoPs are self-motivated and self-driven in terms of participation, as they recognise that the CoP is the platform where they can find the answers they want? It is through this interaction that one grows - the ideas, the answers, new questions, curiosity... - when one is actively engaged in the process, in the spirit practised in the community... knowledge is created and learning takes place in the process of seeking answers (in response to the initial questions, to the new questions that grow from the interaction and process of seeking answers to initial questions).

So, what will keep the CoP going? When will it cease to exist? When it no longer serve the primary objective that started it off? But, with the changes in the course of maturing, it is definitely likely that the CoP will evolve and reach a day when it no longer serve the very first objective that triggers its creation. Indeed, it will probably serve a larger objective... while the initial objective becomes one of the many... possible?

Hm... I think... yes... and there's nothing wrong with this... as a result of change... the focus is not lost, but it's broaden... good or not? Development is not necessary convergent (keep sharpening the tools). It does mean expanding the repetoire and widening the horizon...