Thursday, February 28, 2008

Reflection: Workshop for HOD/Maths (2nd run)

@ Chung Cheng High (Yishun), 21 & 28 February 2008
This is the 2nd run of the workshop - saw some improvements over the 1st run, but there were also areas not carried out so smoothly, as compared to previous run.

What I thought we did well:

  • Bold enough to try a new grouping strategy. Thought it was refreshing - not just participants' feedback, but I felt so... a change :D Still remember I said that, "Let's do it in an non-ICT way!" I guess that surprised some participants!
  • Beefing up the resources for the "ICT tools in Education" component. Thought it was a right move, introducing them a wide range, and really getting every group to crack their head. However, because of the lack of time, there are several repetitive ones... so, it would be perfect if have taken care not to feature similar ones.
  • Of course, it's encouraging, to hear from Ivy that at least one of the resources have been used by her teachers already! :D
  • Good that tea break was ready right at the start of the workshop... Ahha... participants were pampered! Well, we managed to steal some time lah...

Things that did not go that well:

  • Time management - one of the worst rounds - all I could blame, because I forgot to wear my watch for the 1st session. Was so lost... No good... There wasn't any wall clock in the lab, too... Lesson learn: No matter what, depend on thyself!
  • Lab arrangement - not very conducive for a large group, especially the cluster right in front of the teachers' station... Can't see at all! What kind of awkward design!!!
  • More can be done when participants shared about the learning gaps!
  • Should not have told them the "Deliverables" of the learning activity - I'm referring to the Integration matrix. By now should have learnt what are the buttons not to trigger!!! Please remember - never never mention the word "deliverable"!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Talk: HINDUISM REDISCOVERED - A Religion in Vogue

by Vivekacharya Pavan Choudary (on February 22, 2008; 7:00pm to 8:30pm @ SMU)

Chanced upon the publicity advertisement on last Sunday's newspaper. Hey, looked interesting, I thought... Hinduism? It has always been a mysterious yet colourful religion in my eyes. It's also a rather complicated one, I thought, equivalent to Taoism - with lots of gods and deity stories. This is very unlike religions like Buddhism, Christianity and Islam where there's one significant figure that people can associate with. Hey, what a chance! So, I signed up - really, curiosity drives action :D

No doubt, after the 1½ hours, learnt more about the religion. The talk was interesting though yawned a couple of times because of the early bird symptom... hahaha... Pavan delivered the talk with strength and belief... with humour, and it's so easy to understand - of course, because it's not in depth (else could be very donning...) And yes, the entertainment by his assistant, who sang several verses of the poems by Kabir.

Hinduism - the belief touches on

  1. transmigration of the soul - which implies the soul does not die after death, it casts itself into another body.
  2. karma - doctrine of compensation - this is equivalent to what you reap is what you soar, though it could carry across several lives.
  3. hierarchy - yes, this is certainly reflective at the caste system.

In a nutshell, here's some points jotted down in that evening...

Another "Thought of the Day"... When someone throws stones at you, use it to build the castle

Reflection: Workshop on Spreadsheet (Secondary) 1st Run

@ First Toa Payoh Secondary School, 13 & 20 February 2008 (Link to Workshop Blog)

In the original plan, we did not even thought of facilitating the spreadsheet workshop via a blog... thought of adopting the same approach - using a Shared Spreadsheet to manage the group work and responses from participants. Nevertheless, despite of the pre-workshop preparation, the network played us out! (more seriously than our encounter at Teck Ghee Primary last year). Sigh!

Fortunately, created the blog just 15 minutes before the (1st) session began. Well, luck seemed not at our side that day! To our shock! only the teacher's PC and a couple of other stations work! Oops! Really 人算不如天算!This was all because the network was switched-off because there was CPA coursework in the morning.

Luckily (in fact we had never get ourselves so well-prepared for continguency!) we still have post-its! hahaha... 天无绝人之路. Phew! Hm... now: Whenever we go for workshop, we shall bring along with us the emergency pack!

Because of the technical problems, the overall impression was really Chaos! Halfway through the presentation (at the beginning), all the participants' systems 'froze' ('cos WK solve the network issue - one learning point: Never never meddle (or explore!) with anything that we are not familiar with... This prevents unnecessary disruption)

Another observation:
Hey, many (well, must emphasize the point that it's not all) Maths teachers tend to be late! Hey! where's this value of observing punctuality? In fact, we had a group of teachers (more than 5) from a school who were late for almost 20 min. Yet, did not take to heart that they disrupt the flow/on-going of the workshop. Oh yes, another point I don't quite understand - not all teachers from the hosting school were punctual! Indeed, we had teachers from the far north arrived ontime!

Something we did (for the first time)... before the 2nd session...
  • To address the latecomers issue... it's the first time we sent an email to all participants that we would be starting the 2nd session punctually because of 'additional skill building' built into the workshop. {So, this is the 'plan'}
  • On the day, we kept to our words to execute the plan. at 2.35 pm, we started... despite only about 5 were here... Think the participants were a bit surprise... but we carried on. Of course, those who came in this time came in quietly... hahaha... seems working :P

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Experimenting with slide show

Hurray! I've succeeded!

It's much easier than I've expected... In fact had given up the 'hope' of uploading external files into the blogger - it seemed so difficult unless there's a button at the Compose mode.

Anyway, this curiosity came again after the recent Weblog workshop when participants asked about it again... and (don't know what made me do this... but) I asked Paul how to do it in blogger. Immediately, he could rattle off a couple of ways... there it goes, how could the "blog queen" not knowing how to do? hahahaha...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Reflection: Workshop on Weblog for Maths (Secondary)

This is a revised version - compared to last year. 2 distinctive differences:
  • separate the primary and secondary participants - so this run is solely for participants from secondary schools
  • reduce the number of sessions from 3 to 2.

A few areas we could have done better:

  • The different uses of blogs in Maths learning - could not quite elicit what we wanted from the participants (unlike last year). I think, it's the illustration that made a difference in the quality of outputs and I think, also the alignment of views between the trainers.
  • Implementation of activities - only slightly more than 50% managed to put up something in their blog (for the class); even a smaller number manage to get pupils to participate. However, from those who managed to get pupils to participate, we could surface certain 'concerns' for discussion. We also saw a couple of participants whose practice differ from the rest, hence enable us to share the 'authentic' cases with the class.
  • Response to the participants after 1st session was not quickly put up... which I hope to do that earlier...
  • Oops! Forget to cover activity 6 (though it's a small activity)

Something that I thought that's done pretty well:

  • We managed to complete most of what's planned (except Activity 6 in the 1st session)
  • In session 1, manage to build in the 'understanding of dashboards and blogs' quite naturally
  • In session 2, it's the first time that we attempt to get participants to help recap what's done in the 1st session through an activity - go round robin to jot down what each could recall one thing they did in Session 1 workshop... then go around the groups, each taking a turn to say out one of the responses they gathered within the group... until it's exhausted... hm... hype up the class a little - they are more relax... for a moment, thought I'm in a game show
  • As we continue... another activity where the participants were to surface what are the "can" and "cannot" do in group blogs - it's the first time to divide the class into 2 big groups, and within each big group to think of answers to the assigned question.
  • Somehow, find that the participants have been pretty forthcoming in participating in the activities.

Something new that hope to "pick up" from this workshop...

  • We are also quite bold in inviting participants to register to participate in the social network. Though almost all signed up however, due to the authentication process, they could not get into the group immediately... anyway, I thought it was a good try.