Friday, December 25, 2009

Digital Collage

Came across the online software when visited one of the students' site. This is an accidental surprise, as I would have gone for the simplest means, insert the images in a powerpoint slide and convert it to an image. Didn't expect any online stuff. The website is

Nevertheless, it's interesting as it could organise/re-arrangment the images in various ways!
and can extract images conveniently from online albums! So convenient.

Here are some of my masterpieces...

Can also find here:


Friday, December 18, 2009


Saw this post "CPF" when visited Richie's blog - One take away of our reflection day. Ah! I agreed with him, this wise someone has brought across the points so succinctly that reminded all of us, what we are in for... and of course, the expectations.

Well, I'm pretty absent-minded... can't quite recall the elaboration of these... but, one thing I sure remember - myself nodding my head, agreeing with what's said as I listened... because what's said aligns with what I believe...

How I would associate/interpret "CPF"
Perhaps let's take it irregardless of what context we are talking about... In fact, it appears as general principles...

C - Courage and Commitment
  • Courage is critical - for one to venture beyond the comfort zone, and for one to seek breakthroughs - be it big or small.
  • I made a big step (which I considered so) when I signed on the dot to leave my comfort zone for a year, what's more I was rooted to the comfort zone for more than 10 years. Of course, I did my risk assessment and I know what I will (or will risk to) lose - which includes opportunities, and many others. Lots of things would be put to test. Then I learn that Courage is driven by Beliefs!
  • Similarly, for where I am now - Do I have a choice? Yes. I do. I could choose to go elsewhere and do other thing if I've decided not to come to where I am now. Coming to where I am now - needs courage, too! Because it's a piece of unknown land, it's a total new adventure... one need not to say much, there's high expectations from the institution. So, will I live up to the mark? What if I don't? What consequences or implications (to myself)? Hm... perhaps it's not so much of others' expectation - I presume that I'm now here means I (am expected to) meet the minimum expectation. It's more like a personal challenge! Since I've taken the first step, the rest of the journey? Just pick up the courage and move on! There's "No Point of Return".
  • Commitment is essential for a job done well. There's where we breathe "life" into what we do! That's where we bring out "life" in what we do!
  • Without commitment, how is one going to bring out the best or get the most out of any opportunities. Without commitment, there's no sustainability; there's no continuity; there's no heart or soul in what one does... So, what's the purpose of being there?
  • Oh! It sounds so terrible!!!!! Without commitment, how does one draw satisfaction from what they do? (ok, minus those who only count the dollar and cents!).
  • Well, again, it boils down to one's personal belief.

P - Purpose and Perseverance

  • Look at what we do - every action, every thought, don't they serve a purpose? Basically, it's all purpose driven! Hm... it sounds like another word of "Purpose" is "Agenda"? Oops! using the word "agenda" somehow gives it a negative connotation. Right?
  • Often, when we ask people why they do this or that, to drill down further, we just want to know, what's the purpose behind what they do.
  • One subject close to our heart, WHY students learn ICT skills?
  • It's not because it's a good to have. It's not because everybody's out there are learning. It's not a matter of being kiasu and not to lose out. It's not because we are a Technology school. No! No! No! That's not our underlying purpose!
  • It's the VALUE! It's the value that ICT can bring about! That's why ICT comes into the picture. That's why the primary notion is, we want students to LEARN WITH ICT, and not learn to use ICT.
  • Someone said (or maybe I should use the word "warned") we should not use ICT for the seek of using it. Yes. I fully agree. However, we should not borrow this phrase to deny the potential it has, to deprive the opportunities for this potential to show the world that it could... in the name that there are other methods that has been proven good, and great??? Or is it a reflection of people lack the courage to venture and test out possibilities?
  • Purpose goes with Value, I believe.
  • Perseverence - another magical word - It's one's spirit and determination to move on, despite of challenging times. It's about hanging on during bad times, getting through the stage, and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel...
  • To persevere, it means one believes there's "hope" for the better! Maybe we could say, "hope" is the "carrot" to perseverence? hahaha.....
  • To persevere, it means one does not give up. It's not just the piece of work, it's also one's belief.
  • Not everyone could persevere under all circumstances. On the other hand, when one couldn't persevere in one instance, it doesn't mean he/she doesn't when subjected to other circumstances. I guess, the personal priority, and what one values plays a pivot role here.
  • Can perseverence be trained? Maybe not... but I think the environment (i.e. people around, as well as the kind of support available) matters. It could either enhance (maybe, "increase" is a better word) or diminish!

F - Friends and Family

  • These are important elements that make the 2Cs and 2Ps to take place.
  • Understanding and supportive family members and friends make a big difference.
  • They are ones who stand by us, they are the ones who encourage us and give the moral support even though they know know they might not be able to help.
  • They are the ones who could understand us, and where we are coming from (the purpose) without us even iterating it umpteen times!
  • Gentle taps and tinkles make a difference! They tell us - we are not alone. They are the ones who would offer a cushion to us when we need to be comforted.
  • They are also the ones who have the courage to tell us our blind spots! of course, they are also the ones who bother to make us a better person. They are the ones who will tell us what we have done wrong. If they don't bother, they won't take the risk to 'empty' their emotional account.
  • Just remember, don't take them for granted! Appreciate the people around us!

Monday, December 14, 2009

SST's Pioneer Students' Blog

Recently, created this blog to start engaging our students-to-be:
SST's Pioneer Students: Your Journey Begins Here..

Indeed, initially, I thought I might be a bit bold. Hm... are we having overly high expectations of our students? Reason being getting the 12-year-old to explore and learn ICT skills on their own even without any face-to-face session!

Well, the kids nowadays are so IT-savvy, and nothing is difficult unless it's really something impossible. Well, if we, as teachers can explore on our own, why not the kids? Indeed, with their curious minds, coupled with their energy level, they have the upper hand!

On the other hand, it's really a new approach of getting students to acquire ICT skills - to leverage on web 2.0 tools and media. Yup, no longer are those days when we have an ICT trainer standing in front of 40 students and guide them through in the step-by-step navigation.

Well, well... the tasks were also crafted differently. It's no longer click here to do this, click here to do that. Well, the approach I believe, we should undertake is, purposeful learning. Purpose is tied to the subject/content learning outcome. ICT skills should not front the learning activity. It's about how to use selected features to accomplish the task.

To my pleasant surprise (and I'm also glad that), a handful of students responded within a week and demonstrated their ability to learn through exploration. While a couple of them were beginners to the blogging, they were able to come up with pretty decent blogs (including one even changed to some non-standard templates).

Certainly, GoogleMap was new to most of them. On the other hand, it was also obvious that GoogleMap posted no challenge to the netizens! From the pieces of work done, I believe some of us have to take our hats off them.

Am really excited to know what were the students' reactions when their posting was confirmed. There, discover pretty interesting thoughts and reactions!
Have shared the posts out via the GoogleReader:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Year-end Reflection Day 2009

There are 2 tasks "assigned" to us before the day came...
(i) Identify 5 photos that speaks to the most about our life in SST, our contributions to SST, our joy, laugher and tears (if any) in SST for the past 1 year.
(ii) An elevator speech...

Here's my scrapbook:

Here's my photo selection:

(a) Guess where's this place? Visited this place in 2008... can recognise the door frame (minus those distracting posters)? Hahaha... it's Block B Level 2... where we spent most of our time now :D The staff room, which was converted from the library :D It said, the "Book Jungle".... hahaha... well, well... maybe a room of "farmers" when almost all of us had a quick taste of 'farming' - one of the craze in 2009!

This was an exciting visit... our maiden visit to a building that's older than some of us... yet was meant to be an institution catered to lead its way in Science and Technology! What a tall order!!! But, look at building today and make a comparsion, yes... it's a significant transformation :D Thanks to those brains and hands behind this change :D

(b) This event marked a significant milestone of SST... Guess what it was? MOE EXCEL Fest 2008! That's our very first outreach programme to potential students... and yes, it was the first time we put on the hats of the ambassadors! It was pretty exciting, when it's the first time the new team came into interaction with the public!

(c) The very first meeting EXCO that took place outside SST... Guess where??? The Esplanade! We were at Haagan Daz... Each of us only ordered a drink (plus a glass of water), with the exception of Eunice who had a scoop of ice cream that cost more than $5!!!

Here's the photo taken in this May! That was me 5 months after joining SST. Just sealed boxes of 'memories' and 'hardwork' and 'work-to-continue'...

This photo was taken just one day after (the previous photo). It's my maiden photo in the holding site, after we 'moved in' in that morning... at last... moved in...

Another milestone on 2 July 2009 :D
All of us ventured into new grounds... Enjoy the healthy fruit!

My MasterPiece... created using QuickTime...

What to do with an elevator's speech? In one email... it's about what we could contribute to the school while the other said, what we have contributed to the school to-date. Well, well... make it simply... my journey to-date...

Time, memories and emotions travelled back to last April. Indeed, to say it right, it started off in March last year when the school held its very first recruitment talk at Ngee Ann Polytechnic... and the door has started to open wider, and wider each day... till April... when eventually, I got my "admission ticket"!

Why use the analogy "Admission Ticket"? There's limited places! It's available over limited period of time. You miss the boat, that's it! It's an opportunity that came so timely when it's time for me to move on (after 3 years of attachment at ETD). Why it's an "opportunity"? Because of the match of my expertise to what I think it's a place where I could contribute well... That's why, in one of my tweets, I said, "上天对我不薄"! Really.

I guess, anything that made this journey different is, I'm not travelling alone - but with people whom I worked with before, and those who have a common goal, to create and materialise their dreams. As we work closer, I guess, we are bonded with stronger as we move closer to our common goal.

As mentioned in the clips, there are ups and downs, peaks and valleys... not just on the projects or tasks that we do, but also personal relationships. Each provide teachable moments. Indeed, at a more personal (level of) gain - The more we understand each other, we appreciate their company, support and presence. However, we must not take for granted when others et to understand us (because of the good relationship). It does not necessary mean that we should "be ourselves" in the way we talk and interact with each other. It's not their obligation to accept who we are just because they "understand" us. To build a relationship, it's two-way - there are gives and takes. It requires both parties to change to some extent, in order to build a good relationship. The underlying mode of practice - RESPECT. It's something that I thought some of us did very well, but (sadly) some of us did not. For the latter, is it because of your ignorance? or perhaps who's around you, what's around you doesn't matter - as long as you achieve what you aim to? ... while you wanted others to be less critical of the quality of work, do you strive to understand where these people are coming from? If one doesn't bother, one would have saved his/her breathe (省一口气,暖暖肚子更好!)... this is something, as a member of the family, I think we should think about...

As a family, I value each and everyone around... no matter we shared common views on certain things or not, no matter how flare-up we were with each other because of work (well, stress element kicks in quite often), etc... We come forward to join this family because we have a common dream!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Guess who's that!

Wow! 1st time in the Straits Times (oh... my face?) hahaha...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Reflection... on APD (14-16 October 2009)

{This reflection is also available at the workshop learning blog}

... the constant reminder of the alignment & inclusion of "Innovation" in an effective ICT-enabled lesson - which drive the quality of our lessons another level up.
What makes the ICT-enabled learning experience different from others? How do we incorporate our distinctive flavours in the learning experience - the SST experience that we want to create.
... remain focused while we attempt the integration.
Keep in mind the "onion diagram": #1 What's Worth being Familiar with? #2 What's Important to Know and Do? #3 What's the Big Ideas & Core Tasks - Enduring Understanding? How does ICT play its part in #3?
... another constant reminder of empowering students - provide learners the opportunities to uncover the knowledge (importantly) with appropriate scaffolds.
Time was cited as the concern in several discussions. Good to ask ourselves: How did we choose the topic when designing the ICT-enabled activity?
Did we pick the area that's worth the amount of time and effort to help students master the understanding before we start thinking how ICT come into the picture? or we just pick an activity that ICT could be integrated easily? Often, such learning activity turns out to be good-to-have (i.e. where's the focus: #1 or #3 when designing the activity?)
... emotional hook vs real world applications to the learner.
Our examples sometimes pitch at the "adult" experience. Examples like famous overseas landmarks, stock exchange are relevant real world application; however, learners might not be able to associate to them. They would remember better how to compute the measurements to enlarge their toy to its maximum yet could pass through the classroom door as compared to calculating the size of a model of the Merlion if it were to shrink by a factor a given factor.

2 out of a few observations that set us think further...
  1. On the use of animation/video... How different is the way we use animation/video, compared to the existing practices in schools? It's a standard (model) answer and an undeniable fact (since days in 1st Masterplan) - Animation/Video helps students to visualise what they could not see with the naked eyes, hence students are able to understand what's abstract and could be presented in 2-dimensional drawing in the past. After more than 10 years, it's time for us to find a breakthrough in the way we use the tool. What more could SST offer?
  2. It is obvious that online mindmap facilitates collaboration and construction of collective knowledge/ideas. The question is, how different it is when using an online or hardcopy mindmap? Both modes enable collaboration and collective knowledge construction. We could put the hardcopy mindmaps up on the wall and do a gallery walk, use post-its to provide feedback. One colleague said, "The online mindmap allows students to organise the information easily during the discussion whereas the hardcopy mindmap does not provide that degree of flexibility." This is an example how an online mindmap serves as a productivity tool (reduces the hassle and time when completing a given task). The key benefit we can rip from this "live" tool: It records students' thinking and learning at various stages (snapshots). It allows students to re-organise & expand the ideas as they increasing/ on-going gain deeper understanding of the concept, the inter-connectedness/ relationships of ideas. Coupled with the rest of the assessment modes/ tools, it forms part of the "scrapbook". The online collaborative mindmap provides "live" evidence of learning.
Though zooming into the learning activity seems myopic, it's where the action takes place and what the learners exactly go through. I wonder, without these fundamental blocks, how would learners appreciate the bigger scheme of things?

A few essential questions surfaced (at this level)
1. How effective is the use of ICT in the learning activity?
This re-examines our understanding of the tools and its role in the learning experience.
2. How different would the learning experience be in the absence of ICT?
This checks if we are merely substituting the conventional "tools" with ICT, or leveraging on the strengths of the tools.
3. How different is this way of using ICT different from existing/known practices?
What's the SST experience that we want to create with Technology?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Teachers' Champ

Straits Times Interview with Professor Linda Darling-Hammond
Click HERE to read the full article (by Sandra Davie)

The article was brought to our attention on the very morning when it was published (26 August 2009, Wednesday) when we had our weekly PD session. Mrs Chew took the trouble to read out a couple of paragraphs that really, wanting to emphasize to us that Teacher Quality is really to key to students' learning. Coincidentally, that's also the message that was communicated to all of us during the Teacher Mass Lecture.

She read,
  • Teacher qualifications, teacher knowledge and skills, make more difference for student learning than any other single factor. One of the more recent studies was that conducted in North Carolina by academics Charles Clotfelter, Helen Ladd and Jacob Vigdor. It found that a teacher's experience, test scores and certification all had a big impact on student achievement.
  • In comparison to the effects of changes in class size or to the socio-economic background of students - such as the education level of their parents - teacher credentials were way out in front. Prof Darling-Hammond insists that 'you cannot ignore teacher effects - the difference is substantial'.
  • She points out that another study - this one by statistician William Sanders - disputes the connection made by much of the education world between poverty and low student performance. He found that all other factors studied, such as class size, ethnicity, location and poverty, all paled into triviality compared to teacher effectiveness.
  • Furthermore, his research showed that students unlucky enough to have a succession of poor teachers were virtually doomed for the education cellar. His study found that students with three straight years of effective teachers had 60 per cent greater achievement than those who had a succession of ineffective teachers.
  • ...demonstrated that well-qualified teachers make more of a difference to lagging students. So, she insists, the best teachers should be teaching the weakest children, who stand to benefit the most from having a well-qualified and experienced teacher.

Indeed, we all acknowledge that teachers make a difference! What motivates us? Apart from the target/ambition that some of us set out, in fact, a significant figure is usually the factor cited. Here, the significant figure could be the teacher, someone who serves the role of the mentor or teacher, though might not be a 'formal' teacher. Fully agree - It makes or breaks. The impact is greater for the younger soul who experienced it. I would still remember my P1-P3 Mother Tongue teachers whose encouragement and influence played a big part in my love of the Chinese language. It's also my P2 EL teacher who had turned English Language to the most feared subject I had over all these years - which I'm still suffering from the impact though it's more than 30 years ago. So, to build or destruct? It lies in our hands.

Teachers Mass Lecture - Teachers for Tomorrow: Enduring Mission, Evolving Role

Attended the Teachers' Mass Lecture held at Singapore Expo on Wednesday (26 August 2009). Look forward to the lecture as these lectures presented in the recent years are highly relevant to the context (it's about change... changing environment, changing learners, changing role of the teachers). Of course, there's always some 'big bang' to look out for, each year. For instance, the announcement of the Grow Package, etc. This year's no difference. It's the launch of the vision of the Teaching fraternity.

extracted from MOE's homepage:
MOE’s Director-General of Education, Ms Ho Peng, launched the Vision for the Teaching Service at the Teachers’ Mass Lecture. Drafted by teachers, for teachers, the Vision aims to keep teachers focused on what they want to accomplish in the years ahead to move the fraternity to a higher level of professional excellence.
It says...
Singapore Teachers—Lead. Care. Inspire.”
“By word and deed, through the care we give, we touch the lives of our students. We make a difference—leading and inspiring our students to believe in themselves and to be the best they can be.
As individuals and as a community of professionals, we seek continually to deepen our expertise. Respectful of fellow educators, we collaborate to build a strong fraternity, taking pride in our work and profession.
We forge trusting partnerships with families and the community for the growth and well-being of each student.
We Lead, Care, Inspire,For the Future of the Nation Passes through Our Hands.”
Wow... it has succinctly summarised what we are here for...

Well, what are the takeaways from the session?
I think, the key message is, "Teachers, you matter!" The way the students are going to be, are what you are (partly) and what you have to offer. So, indirectly, is about teacher competence, too! One of the new strategies (approach?) is the setting up of PLCs (Professional Learning Communities). Indeed, I'm just wondering... how different is it, compared to COPs (Communities of Practice)? Is it just a change of name? Yes, I believe so... as there's already some deepseated perceptions of COPs... of course, I believe, learning from past experiences, the purpose PLCs have and the form it takes would have sharpened and implementation should have much more well thought-through... (learning from previous experiences!)

Another thing I picked up... About the "Bus" analogy... which Sir Michael spoke about (if I remember correctly), the attitude towards prioritising and participating in change in a timely manner.
  • When opportunity knocks at our door, and we know that it's just the beginning, do we choose to come on board (someone once described, "bite the bullet and go") and participate even at the early stage? Or we want to wait for the next opportunity that arises, which by then, it could be something that's non-negotiable?
  • Sometimes, because timing is not right, we would just give it a miss and wait till we are ready. However, how often are we ready? By the time we are ready, will the bus come? or it may come late when everybody would then be on the bus.
  • Another question is, do we, indirectly, shortchange our students of what they deserve and would have enjoyed the fruits of implementation because we decided not to take the risk?
Another interesting but important point:
What went wrong (in the classroom) when there's no change after the 'said' reform?
This is the most fearful outcome (after any review)! In other words, all effort put in does not yield results reflective of the intent of change! So, what would have gone wrong? It could happen at any point of the chain. Of course, if we talk about change of assessment mode, changes could be made at the classroom level (informal assessment, formative assessment). However, when it comes to summative, because the mode is determined by the highest examination board, there goes the varied ways of assessing learning outcomes... students simply have to be trained to answer questions the way they appear in the pen-and-paper exams!

Ringing the bell again... What are the "future planet occupants" like? What's the skill set they should be equipped with? Indeed, nearer to us are our students! So, are we ready to equip them with the right set of skills? Are we competent enough to teach(?), to role model(?). Is our existing system evolving and changing, and thus creating the kind of environment that's conducive to develop the desireable dispositions and outlooks (of our students)?

A Formula for all of us:
Ethical Underpinnings (Knowledge + Thoughts + Leadership)
E ( K + T + L )


Indeed, tweeted along the way... throughout the lecture... (read from bottom-up)

~~~~~~~~~~lecture by Sir Michael Barber

  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML It's the quality of tg force that matters. Class size matters? The appropriate kind of strategies to make a difference here.
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML the wisdom of dealing with change.
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML What went wrong (in the classrm) when there's no change after the 'said' reform?
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML Is it ok to miss the bus because we know there's one on the way?
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML Sustainable economic growth & priority to edn. - survival & thrive
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML Wow! The unknown unknowns!
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML system level - Quality of the Tg force - Tr prepn & PD (leading to excellent classrm practice)
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML learning, learning & overlearning (fluency). Learning strategies, objectives, intent
  • OOICY: #TDML what's so different the Equation from the FIVE MINDS?
  • OOICY: #TDML Ethical underpining>>>
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML Citizenship Edn. Child learning to lead. E: Ethical Underpinning
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML hands), Leadership (capability to lead - given opportunities - practise in sch, at home, etc
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML who r these 'turnaround' agents? Educate every child well... E(K+T+L) - Knowledge, Thinking/Thot (alone or in teams; think with our
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML face the poss being conquered if not alert & sensitive to changes?
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML while there's development & progresses, degree of impact & influences draw both benefits & concerns... Hv we conquered? or...
  • OOICY: #TDML are earthlings ready for the 2050s? the overcrowded planet!
  • OOICY: #TDML accounting the progress of technology by Sir Michael Barber.
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML Technological & Scientific developments.
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML Lecture by Sir Michael Barber begins... starting fr space creature about mankind development...

~~~~~~~~~~Address by Ms Ho Ping

  • OOICY: #TDML LEAD the learners, Lead the learning.
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML Leading Learning - Teacher leaders. Learning Communities - PLCs
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML Our vision: S'pore Trs Lead, Care, Inspire
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML 5 Dimensions: intellectual, Physical, Aethetics, Social, Moral
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML words: CARE, INSPIRE, PROFESSIONALS
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML Emerging Teacher Leadership - untapped attributes of trs... where r we heading towands
  • lohkwaiyin: #TDML TLLM - innovation, evoln - research, pedagogies, capacity building...
    lohkwaiyin: #TDML milestones - TSLN top down to ground up, inspectors to mentors, sharing...


~~~~~Follow-up discussion @ SST on 2 Sep PD Session:
  • Key concepts:
  • Ethics [macro]
  • Leadership
  • Thinking
  • Knowledge
  • Change [macro]
  • Education

  • Generalisations: (are complete statements - should be something that's arguable)
  • Ethics underpin change
  • Leadership is the critical vehicle for change (provocative?)
  • Alternatively (more complex): Ethical leadership is the critical vehicle for better changes
  • Curriculum should constantly be reviewed and change as the world evolves(?)
  • Education that focuses on skills rather than content prepare students for the better workforce.

  • Supporting Evidence:
  • Advancement of technology in railway
  • Opportunities to change but there are countries lagging behind
  • After big bang, Physics can only explain 5% of the world

Assessment IN learning: What, Why, When and How?

Date: 29 August 2009, Saturday
Time: 10 am - 12 noon
Presented by: Associate Professor Sivakumar Alagumalai
Click HERE to see synopsis

Chanced upon this talk while surfing the web for something else... well, What's "Assessment IN Learning"? I wonder. In fact, am pretty familiar with "Assessment of Learning" and "Assessment for Learning"... well, as it summarises in the website:

Gibbs (1999) highlight that assessment can happen at three crucial stages of learning. Assessment AS learning, Assessment FOR learning and Assessment OF learning can occur either as standalone processes or be implemented concurrently to gauge the learning cycle.
  • Assessment as Learning – occurs when students reflect on and monitor their progress to inform their future learning goals.
  • Assessment for Learning – occurs when teachers use inferences about student progress to inform their teaching.
  • Assessment of Learning – occurs when teachers use evidence of student learning to make judgements on student achievement against goals and standards.
It's pretty obvious that Students are central in Assessment AS Learning - when they are the ones who handles the monitoring/review processes whereas Assessemnt FOR & OF learning is largely managed from the teachers - when often, we would bring in terms like "Formative Learning" and "Summative Learning" respectively.

Alagumalai (1999, 2005, 2008) highlighted that assessment IN learning is equally or more important that just assessment as/for/in learning. He advanced that ‘Assessment in Learning’ occurs when teacher and student(s) conjointly set learning targets and milestones in the learning process instituting appropriate diagnostic / remediation / enrichment processes. This includes responding to any cue or feedback provided during the learning process and formulation of strategies to enable transfer of learning for future use. Alagumalai et al., (2009) highlight assessment in learning is pivotal for pattern recognition and novel problem solving, and feedback facilitates and enhances the extension of situated and tacit knowledge.

Learnt an analogy between FORMATIVE and SUMMATIVE assessment, which is nicely summed up by Robert Stake summed up:
When the cook tastes the soup, that's FORMATIVE;
When the guests taste the soup, that's SUMMATIVE.
Click HERE to see more.

Isn't that very real?
Teacher, being the classroom instructional leader, is the COOK while students are the dishes to be prepared. How good a dish depends on the quality of the ingredients, the supporting hardware (e.g. ovens, pots and pans) and very importantly, the skills and experience of the cook!
  • Ingredients are equivalent to the learning materials that we prepared for and used by the students. Quality matters. Choice matters. For instance, we talked about using questions to scaffold students' learning. Did we craft the appropriate kind of questions to elicit the desired responses? The choice of ICT resources - did we use choose the appropriate kind of resources to bring about the intended kind of learning experiences? E.g. while we wanted students to carry out investigation, would something that's dynamic and allow them to manipulate serve better than just a video clip to illustrate 'investigation'?
  • The supporting hardware, I would consider them as the learning environment. The set-up that helps bring about the process. For instance, accessibility to technology means (e.g. online portal, computers)
  • Last not not least, the most important factor - the teacher factor - the competencies! Without this, all fail! (of course, there's another school of thought says, students perform well under the worst teachers because they will seek external help as the only means to survive! Hahaha...). In fact, "Teacher Competency" is also emphasized in the Teachers' Mass Lecture this year, by Ms Ho Ping (DGE) as well as Michael Barber (will talk about it in another blog post).
In fact, Siva illustrated the 3rd point through another case study carried out (I think, in Australia): When surveys were carried out with teachers as well as students on 3 areas: Content Expertise, PCK (Pedagogical Content & Knowledge) and Assessment views. Interesting but "logical" finding:
  • Teachers were asked the topics they find (i) easy to teach (ii) OK to teach (iii) Hard to teach. Similarly, students were asked the topics that they find (i) easy to learn (ii) OK to learn (iii) hard to learn.
  • Findings show that there's high correlation! (more than 0.9!). In fact, that links teachers' competency to how well students learn too! For a topic that the teacher finds easy to teach, of course, students benefit most - and probably there's where enduring understanding comes in - assuming that the teacher is able to help the student to connect the content beyond the curricular context. Similarly, for something that the teacher is not strong at (or in the first place, did not learn well), then of course, the same applies to the students!
  • Fully agree with this, as I could find myself going through these 3 modes too! (as a learner & as a teacher).

It's an interesting lecture that comes with several provocating questions, which set us to think greater in depths...

Siva highlighted several paragraphs in the OECD (2009) Education Today: The OECD Perspective: (p44) E-learning has not yet revolutionised learning and teaching in higher education systems: The current immaturity of on-line learning is demonstrated by low adoption of content management systems. This refers to electronic content being split into “learning objects”, to be manipulated and reconstituted for multiple pedagogic purposes: only 6.6% of those responding to the UK-based Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) survey of 122 Commonwealth institutions reported institution-wide adoption in 2004. ICT has had more impact on administrative services than on the fundamentals of teaching and learning.

Well, my immediate reactions to the above (text that I underlined) are....

  • In fact, online learning begins with adoption of content management systems (CMS), which is the strategy I think Singapore schools adopt.
  • While LMS/CMS were introduced in the late 90s, it's a good-to-have for schools, and mostly taken up by schools that were gungho to give it a try and being ahead of others. To some extent, I think it's evolved from CD-ROMs, which are less accessible. Schools start to leverage on the internet acccesibility when of bandwidth becomes a standard provision. by the end of the 1st IT Masterplan. To some extent, it was a novelty in its early days - as an alternative to richer content for students. As far as schools have an option, there's always a choice to consider that later (i.e. being pushed down the priority list).
  • I think, what drives high adoption of CMS (and the use of LMS) is really the pandemic, SARS. It's an awakening call that technology would be one key vehicle to leverage on to enable learning continues to take place despite of school closure. From that point onwards, all secondary schools were expected to subscribe or provide a means to ensure learning could take place without attending classes physically. Gradually, primary schools also follow... as (I guess) the industries uncover high potential in CMS and recognises the primary levels offer a big market. So, all these leads to high adoption nationwide.
  • High adoption is only one milestone to the entirety. How CMS is being incorporated into the learning environment (the entire ecosystem) is another big area to look at. Does it serve as a passive platform or resource? Merely dishing out clips after clips, questions after questions (from its database)? Does it really have an active role apart from being just a supplementary resource?
  • It's no doubt that technology impact is more observable in administrative services - but many a time, its role is no other than a productivity tool - from basics tasks to enable efficient and quick references and retrieval to the higher end tasks like analysis and use of algorithms to generate scenarios and facilitate prediction.
  • On the other hand, looking at what we are trying to strive at... at least as of what's spelt out in the 2nd & 3rd ICT Masterplans, technology is powerful when it's well harnessed. Yes, I use the word harness as it's still pretty vague how we could really use it - I guess, what we have uncover is only the tip of the iceberg. There could be more effective or better ways we could use technology to bring about more effective learning or acquisition of skills (I'm referring to the 21st century skills, life skills). How to? What strategies to employ? Still largely in the blackbox... though we are on the way to undercover bit by bit. I think I'm fortunate as my current working environment looks at providing the necessary features & conditions that's conducive for such uncovering processes to take place.

Siva also brought our attention to PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment). Well, heard about PISA last year, that both Science and Maths units in CPDD seem to be looking into this.

PISA "... to examine how well they (students) can extrapolate from what they have learned and apply their knowledge in novel settings, both in school and non-school context..."... focus... "increasing concerning with what students can do with what they learn and not merely with whether they have mastered specific curricular content"

Just a quick thought - yes, it's something that we are striving to achieve - students being able to apply the knowledge they acquired or the skills they mastered beyond the curricular context (when the knowledge and skills are introduced to them). As Siva shared his experience about learning the various kinds of 'energies' in the different sciences however these were all presented to the learner in a compartmentalised manner instead of 'linking' them up to show how energy exists in different context! This brings out another point, the importance of providing students with the Conceptual lense where they could see what they learn beyond the learning context, and they also learn about its real world application (Hey! Isn't this what we are doing at SST now?)

Another question that sets us thinking... Is what the examination system emphasize in congruence to the expectation of the society/industry (i..e beyond the national exam)?

  • To-date, national exams focus on individual's ability and performance; whereas collaboration is out of the assessment picture.
  • So, what message is the exam system sending to the school - making sure the students are able to tackle problems and tasks on their own? (since the exam does not award marks for collaboration!).
  • On one hand, we are emphasizing cultivating in students the 21st century skills; why is it not reflective in our exam system? (OK, this is something beyond us... and it's been debated over and over again... let us see when will the "CHANGE" take place).
  • Of course, at the back of the school's mind would be: We recognise the importance of the 21st century skills (that are not emphasized in the pen-and-paper exam) and we are willing to deploy/stretch our resources in these areas - however, if students do not perform in national exam, will we be penalised for not directing our attention and resources to the 'right' place? I wonder.

Next question... that always arises when we question the accuracy and validity of assessment (especially during exams) - what's the difference between 49 and 50 marks? Is that 1 mark difference significant? And why are we so sure that one who scored "50" would have met the expectation (which is reflected as the passing criteria) while "49" does not? >> A score is different from a measure.

Another interesting thing shared is the dynamics amongst the various entities in the "ecosystem" that attribute to the assessment directly & indirectly. Managed to capture only part of the diagram...

Also found something similar in the web: Click HERE to see.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Elephant Remembers & The Tale of 2 Brains

The Elephant Remembers

This clip was shared by Sivakumar Alagumalai's talk on "Assessment in Learning" (29 August 2009).

He just used this very simple clip to illustrate that what do we do our students, how we do it (i.e. the way we deliver the lesson) matters! because that creates impression in them - more importantly, they remember!

The Tale of 2 Brains

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

10Cs Pictorially

At last, found a way to remember the 10Cs pictorially... basically, that's to 'hang' them around :P
Apart from the picture, what matters is really the process of drawing it, that's where the 10Cs come into the picture!

Of the 5 Student outcomes... can also somehow 'hang' them on the picture...
1. Creative Thinkers and Innovators
2. Lifelong Learners with Sound Values and Character
3. Collaborative and Independent Problem Solvers
4. Dynamic Leaders
5. Active Global and Local Citizens

Hooray! What an achievement of the day :D

Monday, August 17, 2009

Photo Albums on Timeline

2 websites were given to us and tried them.

Notice that integrates a wider range of platforms as compared to Of course the former has "bigger" advertisements that crowd the top and right banners of the screen.

Also notice that it could capture albums that are set to "Public". The unlisted ones are not shown. Hm... just wonder how many timelines can we create using the same account...

Here's a quick one, using the sst.common account:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Googling Around the Globe

On Thursday (13 August 2009), we had a PD-ICT session facilitated by Irfan that focused on the features in GoogleEarth and GoogleMap.

Here's a couple of things that, on revisiting, that I created...

(a) The map where I've marked both the Holding and Permanent sites on the map. Not too difficult, except having to recall how to get the blue marker out.

View School of Science and Technology, Singapore in a larger map
(b) The map with the Bus-stops and Walking Path marked. This is being marked manually.

View SST - from Clementi MRT Station in a larger map

(c) (i) This map shows the direction by car recommended by GoogleMap after inputing the Source (MRT Station) and Destination (SST):

View Larger Map

(c) (ii) Click HERE to see the step-by-step guide by GoogleMap

(d) Inserting Imagines at the respective locations in GoogleMap.
(i) Here's one for Beijing, China

(ii) Here's one for Paris, France

(e) Presenting it in GoogleEarth - we can click at the image to enlarge the image tagged to it.
However, have not found a way to embed this 'customised' part in the blog.

(i) Here's one for Beijing, China

(f) Here's a map that's created to record the landmarks of places I visited in England this January. Once located the place, insert a placemarker and there, we can insert text (to describe the location/happening then). We can also insert image(s) - however, it's a bit cumbersome as it requires us to copy the URL of the image. In other words, the image has to be uploaded first, then right click to get the URL.

View London in a larger map

Saturday, August 15, 2009

National ICT Sharing Presentation - Using Blogs to Enable Independent Learning

Presented by Susan Soh, Rodger Spelmer & Joyce Lim of Hwa Chong Institution (High School Section)

In the 30 min presentation, what I gathered...

  • This is the first year when Blogging is incorporated into the Sec 1 Lang-Arts programme (LAP) in a structured manner. It is compulsory for all and comes in the form of student-initiated Project (Part of their Project Work).
  • Blogging helps in facilitating Differentiated Instruction (DI), taken into consideration students' learning styles.
  • One important point: The role of teachers progresses from "Teachers" to "Facilitators" - this role is gradual and progressive to allow time for students' adaptation and eventually being able to take charge of the learning. The presenters shared about having Prompts to guide students on the writing (as scaffolds). In fact, students are told be teachers that those are prompts and are encouraged (on-going) to attempt the task without relying on the prompt. This transition is something that we often miss out during implementation - teachers would assign the task without providing scaffolds. Often, the switch from teacher to facilitator role is drastic and students are expected to be independent in no time.
  • A new idea: Electronic Bookshelf where students list down the books they read. How we could implement: Start a Class Library blog where students could share their reading in the form of Book Review. The dept could structure it thematically in a monthly basis or based on genre, etc. In no time, our Electronic Bookshelf will be so much richer! We could easily set a target of 1 book per fortnight and they would also pick up a book reviewed by their peers to read so that they could comment in their classmate's post (possibly offering a different perspective).
  • Role Modeling is another important aspect mentioned, where teachers' involvement (i.e. regular inputs) are necesary for the programme to take off. 3 stages (i) Write, Publish blog posts regularly (ii) Post comments regularly (iii) Blog prompts based on text discussed in LAP classes. Fully agree with this! If one asks the students to do it yet do not personally demonstrate the desired behaviour, then it's not convincing in the kind of habit one intends to cultivate! Moreover, it's important to respond to the students' inputs - at least they are aware that someone's reading and will make an effort to do it well! The prompts are really the scaffolding that keeps thing going on!
  • I also like the systematic approach (which we could probably consider!): (i) Prior introducing Blogging to students, carry out a survey to prep the students. It also gives the teachers an idea where the students are. They term it as "Pre-test" (which I think "Survey" sounds more appropriate). (ii) This is followed by getting students to write/discuss "Journaling vs Blogging" to look at the similarities and differences (hence setting the tone and expectation, I guess). (iii) The class then moved on to analyse newspaper articles of racist bloggers, etc before they move on to (iv) Socratic Seminar on Dangers of Blogging. (v) Drawing from discussions and exposures through these engagement, students then create the blog policy which is then signed by parents as well as students to emphasize the latter's responsibility in blogging. (vi) Eventually, students create their first blog.
  • This blogging activity is also noted as a major ACE activity (10CPs) which all students are expected to complete 20 blogs and provide 12 quality comments to their peers. Their blog must also comprise of multimedia elements (video & photo images). Of course, there's a rubric for teachers to grade the entire exercise!

Something I'm amazed over...

Some useful sites come across in the session:

Other related sites that I chanced upon...

National ICT Sharing Presentation - Ether-World Models: Co-Curricular WetPaint - Environment Simulation

Presented by Robert Puffer & Ms Hoe Tou Hwa of Bukit Panjang Government High School

Was attracted to the session because of its objective outlined in the synposis:

  1. ... to provide a model for extending a student's opportunity for leadership and academic outside the school environment...
  2. ... to demonstrate uses of wetpaint wikispaces which create social environments where students become engaged in self-disciplined learning of curricular goals
  3. ... to demonstrate a peer evaluative tool
  4. ... to propose an extensive of this model to a global project resulting from a national competition. Students will apply their comprehension of class activity to a national and international mdoel for addressing global issues. A Global Issues Network (GIN) will be joined by Singapore students.

In the 30 min presentation, what I gathered...

  • There's this Earth Hope Global Issues Network Conference( where students could participate in discussions pertaining to global issues like Global Warming, Digital Divide. 2008's held in Beijing while this year's in Bangkok. Well, this could be an event where our students could participate, interact with students from all over the world and be engage in rich discussion cross-culturally.
  • Wiki is being used in the EL and History classroom (not sure if it's level wide). Currently, wiki activities seem to supplement who's in the main curriculum. The activities does not come with any assessment component as it aims to make interaction non-threatening. Moreover, not all students participated because not everyone has access to the internet.

Things I already know and I didn't expect to cover (based on the write-up)...

  • Signing up of the WetPaint account. Well, I think such technicalities could be more easily carried out or more effective to participants (who are new to WetPaint) if it's a hands-on session.
  • The new site (access via invitation) was created:
  • Features of WetPaint - something I already know.
  • Benefits of networking via wiki - mainly collaboration. Yes, and agree it depends on the make-up of the community that makes the interaction more enriching!

Questions remain unanswered...

  • What are some of the specific activities that the students are engaged in (English & History) that illustrates their growth and how they have benefited from the participation in a wiki.
  • Well, one example shared was, a student put up a question in the discussion focum (DF)of the class wiki where he invited replies from his peers. Well, this illustrates the clarification process - however, facilitated via a DF. It's not the key feature of wiki - which is suppose to be the collaborative platform.
  • How do students arise from occasion to lead? Not clear. Perhaps illustrated from the discussion forum when one led in the discussion and helped peers who need support? Once again, how does wiki really support this process, apart from the DF that comes with it?
  • Indeed, I was looking out for the kinds of activities/interaction that could leverage on the features uniquely wiki - which could be in the form of collaboration or something else!
  • BTW, what's exactly this Ether-World Model? It was never answered... or was it forgotten? or it's so abstract that it's already answered or I already experienced it without knowing? Hm...

What Kind of Listener are You?

(source: The Straits Times Saturday, August 15 2009 - CATS Recruit R26)

Several types of Listeners are described in this article:
  • Shallow or Superficial - Pretend to be listening. In other words, it's being physicall present while the mind has gone astray! This happens often during opening Address of events/ceremonies is so generic and nothing's new. Sometimes, I just wonder, are the VIPs being invited to give the Opening Address because it's a usual practice? (Doing it for the sake of doing it?) Sometimes, it's not meaningful at all! Of course, there are also those that we look out for announcements that impact us. So, it's the 'standard procedure' that kills its significance?
  • Impatient - the tendenacy to interrupt and finish the sentence for the speaker. Oh! Come across so many such people in group conversation. Really, sometimes I would just wonder, "Where are your manners? You have so much good things (or even better things) to share? Let others finish first - it's respect and you might find jewels in what you hear". Of course, I must also take my hat off for such people who could discard other's reaction and 'cheong' the way in... er... ok, it's an art to know how to interrupt and stop others (which I doubt I would ever master such a skill!)
  • Self-absorbed - being preoccupied with himself or his own thoughts, needs and problems. Well, come across this, and in fact, it's hard to carry on conversation with this kind of "listener" 'cos it seems like his/her point is always more important while others aren't. So, what's the point of talking? They just need an empty vessel to 'pour' their needs and concerns!
  • Other-absorbed - subordinating & unassertive. Never dominates a conversation and barely participate at all.
  • Literal - analytical and listens to the words carefully without realising that effective listening comes from the heart - missing out the emotional & non-verbal content of the message. Anyway, sometimes we have to practise literal understanding to downplay the emotion, especially if we are fully aware the strength of the speaker is to use tone and expressions to hype up one's emotion and sway one's thoughts!
  • Critical - judges according to preconceived ideas and own point of view. Yes, yes... especially if one hears what's against his/her proposal! It could ended up being defensive... and often one does not listen. He hears.
  • Adviser - give sincere but unsolicited advice, telling the speaker what to do or how to solve the problem. Oops! Sometimes tend to fall into this trap... with good intention. Think about it, perhaps the advice born out of the good intention might not be relevant at all times. Or sometimes it's not worth the effort?
  • Interrogator - asks lots of questions to get additional information and to control the information. Hm... So, beware when we try to clarify during the conversation. Over-doing it and not informing the listener the intent/rationale behind may make us sound like interrogating.
  • Empathetic - listens from the heart, builds rapport and is attentive and interested, does not judge or criticise and seeks to understand the speaker's point of view and feelings. Well, well... it comes with sincerity and experience!

Well, I think there's a lot to do with "Who's talking" and the "Background/Context of the Conversation".

One thing that I agree is, how we listen would greatly affect how others will respond to us. However, the reverse is true, too! How well the other party listens affects how we respond (listen) too! The effect/impact resonates!

Teaching that Learning is a Lifelong Pursuit

Seldom flip through the papers so early... flip flip flip and this article caught my eyes "Teaching that Learning is a Lifelong Pursuit" by Dr Su Guaning.
(Source: The Straits Times Saturday, August 15 2009 Review & Forum A34)

Ah... Some very relevant points... that we've been dwelling with in the past couple of weeks - What we hope our 'end-products' who walk out of the school gate look like? What should they possess and bring with them?

Here, he pointed out the critical ones... {hey, a second thought, isn't it the 'model' that all institutes hope to 'create'} - ok some colleagues corrected me very quickly when I used the word 'create'. They suggested it should be 'nurture'. Well, well... it doesn't matter which is which... Really, I see the school as the black box that does whatever magic (be it success or not) to the 'raw materials/parts' that are thrown in... and sending a brand new item out at the other end of the box. In the process, the black box might even undo some of the original 'properties' of the raw materials!

The attributes he pointed out:

  1. Strong qualities of ethical reasoning, integrity and moral character.
  2. Leadership, teamwork, mutual respect and communication skills.
  3. Creativity, innovation and interdisciplinary synthesis
  4. Self discipline, disciplinary strength and life-long learning
  5. Professionalism, public service, social engagement and global citizenship

Yes... I can't agree more than this...

  • Moral values, moral character are the key to all - the thought, the intent to drive the action. It determines the direction and the implications, consequences of all.
  • Leadership must come with mutual respect... else, the leader would only be the leader and follower himself! He can't lead in the team does not exist. Mutual respect connects one to others.
  • Creativity and Innovation do not exist in silo. They are intertwined to generate more benefits. 1 + 1 > 2
  • Attitudes, attitudes & attitudes . Complacency creates "permanence". One might stand still, but the time and tide wait for no one. The earth continues to evolve...
  • Global citizenship - adaptability and ability to filter and leverage on, to build on... however, while one is deeply engaged and hold strong belief in the approach, one must not forget being rooted to values and homeland.

Another interesting thing highlighted in the article is the view of employability by the founder of Visa International, Dee Hock:

  • Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity;
  • second, motivation;
  • third, capacity;
  • fourth, understanding;
  • fifth, knowledge; and
  • last and least, experience.
  • Without integrity, motivation is dangerous;
  • without motivation, capacity is impotent;
  • without capacity, understanding is limited;
  • without understanding, knowledge is meaningless;
  • without knowledge, experience is blind.
  • Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by people with all the other qualities.

Click HERE to see more.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Farmville - Closing the Farm Responsibly...

Declared to close the farms since beginning of the week, and the targeted date of completion is end of this week. Yes! Target achieved!

Well, the farming business sustained no longer than one month... I guess, the key realisation is the addiction to the game... when one tries to struggle between work (or more meaningful business) against play, there's where a decision has to be made... of course, one might talk about time management, if one manages the resources well, there isn't much time wasted. On the other hand, it's also one's notion of whether being engaged in a meaningful activity and what's the initial purpose of being involved in such activity.

I guess, for myself is pretty clear, it's really having a taste of what it is? and certainly, the primary objective of coming on board is because of work... in chinese there's this saying, 知己知彼,百战百胜。One would only be able to tackle the 'enemy' (i.e. problem, in this case) well if we know it well! So, it's the experience that many of us are lacking (or we might have long forgotten!).

So, that's it... experienced the climax where the urge to keep checking the farm was irresistible!

Of course, some would say, ok... since you are quitting, why bother to do a 'clean-up'... can just leave the stuff there... don't attend to it...

The undergirding value is really, RESPONSIBILITY. Be it real world or virtual - I believe that we should participate as a responsible being! It's observable to us, in real world, what's meant by behaving responsibly - many a time, it's also guarded by rules (or even law)! For instance, adopting an animal is no easy business in real world - no abuse! and they have to be well taken care of! We can't just discard it.

Then how about virtual world? Well, most will agree that it's a place where we could (and some of us do!) adopt a different persona! and do things that we could not do in real world (and sometimes, unacceptable behaviour!). Simple things like creating/ registering for free virtual accounts (for various kinds of applications) and left it forever dangling there (er... not making a 2nd time visit!). Hey, this is leaving trash all over the place! Oh! These are whom I call "Cyber Litterer"!

Similarly, for this little farm activity - we are given free plots of land and had the fun of it... though those are virtual plants, there are lives! The plants do withered if not attended to. So, to be responsible, and knowing that one won't come back as regular, one way is to remove all the 'living things' there... no more animals, no more trees and no more crops!

That's why I decided to transform all the 'investments' to non-living thing assets... accept that I couldn't donate or sell the land away! hahaha....

Well, with no crops/animals/trees to harvest... I shall not visit the farm so regularly... and thus... live should be back to normal! Cheers!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The 80-20 Phenomenons

Bought this book "The 80-20 Principle, The Secret of Achieving More with Less" by Richard Koch.

Well, well... this 80-20 principle came about during the work review session... ok, that's probably one good "remedy" to address to the "no time" issue that I always face... hahaha... perhaps sometimes it's not no time, but things seems to be more energy-sapping than it should be.

Have only browsed through first few pages in chapter 1 - which started off by citing how some things outhere simply follow this simply mathematical principle 80-20, but without a logical explanation. It seems to me that this principle is derived through Induction! There are so many instances cited that follow this rule (of course, have to identify the pattern first)... Then it's generalised!
  • Pareto's discovery: Systematic adn predictable lack of balance
  • Zipf's Principle of Least Effort
Just wondering... will this principle applies to me reading this book - only reading 20% and shelving up the remaining 80%? Haha....
  • In another note, just wondering if I have at least read 20% of the books I bought before shelving them? or perhaps, for each book, I have read 20% of them? Haha...

Revisiting Farmville... and Introducing Farm Town

In one of the posts in July, wrote about the potential of Farmville in teaching and learning.

Have started becoming more intensive in playing in the past couple of days... think the climax should be over by then... the desire to check the crops for harvesting, etc. Well, it's really time consuming... So, it's really a battle between the "urge (want)" and "need"... See the 'addiction' symptom in the description?

A few that I could draw from my personal experience:
  • Despite the fact that the crops will only harvest the next day, still very tempting to visit the farm every hour, would hop in to check if any trees or animals are ready! {Despite the fact that I have more urgent matters to attend to...}
  • Though it makes no difference to move the objects around, but there's joy to change the layout as and when. For a moment, the trees are packed, while in another moment, move the pond to the middle of the field. Yes, this is very time consuming and time wasting.
  • Finding means to earn more coins - through farm visiting (yes, yes... it really takes time to visit my neighbour's farm)
  • As and when (when the system permits), click to give free gifts to other farmers, hoping them will give in return
  • Ah! Something that others might not do... U see, I've 2 farms (yes, under 2 accounts!) - that allows SHELOH and HELOH to give each other presents... and as a result, more time spent in generating more coins. Oh yes, whenever one of them receives an award, the other quickly gets to the HOME page to get the bonus!

Ha... so, aren't these some obvious symptoms of addiction?

Well, so much for Farmville. Definitely, it come with some simple mathematics, which means it's still quite worth exploring.

There's another similar game in Facebook - that's also the craze amongst may of the Facebook Friends (oh yes, some actually have accounts for both farms! (er... like me! hahaha)).

  • The obvious difference is, Farm Town is much more complex... as it no longer just involve the key focus - attending to one's farm... It adds other dimensions like, working in other farms to earn money! It also allows the farmer to keep the goods in store before selling. This would help to add value to the goods!
  • Well, Farm Town extends what Farmville does (with regards to values) - Responsibility. It's no longer to ensure no crops were wasted because of late harvesting; Farm Town also requires the farmer to regularly water the plants!
  • The system also allows the avartars to chat! (online chat, I mean). Of course, the level of interaction amongst users is much higher! This leads to potential collaboration! One drawback that I see (so far)... we could not limit the "people" around (there are lots of other strangers hanging around in the market place or the inn!).
  • One thing that puts me off is... the response - slower than Farmville (is it because of its complexity?). It also takes relatively longer time to load the game, when compared to Farmville. Oh yes, the look and feel also less appealing, compared to the Farmville.

Well, well... it's not just farming... the current craze also extends to "Restaurant" business as well as "Livelihood" in the city!

Oh! When will this craze be over!?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Art of Caring Confrontation

by Sanford N. McDonnell
Source: Educational Leadership (Online July 2009 | Volume 66)
(article shared by Mrs Chew)
Have added my thoughts/response in blue

No one likes confrontation, I believe. Nevertheless, sometimes, it could not be avoided because everything would stand still without clearing that obstacle. Confrontation is never pleasant as more often than not, it challenges one's belief and what one values. Sometimes, it would just very quickly cause both parties to go into the defensive mood, be it really in that tone, or it's the imaginary tone that gets one perceive and respond accordingly.

Guidelines for Confrontation:
  • Confront caringly. Confront only after showing real care for the other person, and confront only to express genuine concern.
  • Yes, indeed, if one doesn't care, one won't bother to do such difficult job. This applies to both personal or professional matters.
  • For personal matter, if there yet exists a trusting relationship, one would not be confident that the well-intend would help to move the relationship to greater height. It could simply break everything!
  • For professional matter, confrontation takes place when there's differing interest from the organisation's goals? Sometimes, it's meant to save one from the jeopardising one's future!
  • Confront gently. Speak tactfully, in a way you would like to be spoken to about a sensitive matter. For example, say, "I understand where you are coming from. I have been there, too. May I make a suggestion?" Do not offer more than the relationship can bear or draw out more than you have put into the relationship.
  • Objectivity - and focus on the matter and not the person. Sometimes, it could be misinterpreted as the learner climbed up the ladder of inference.
  • Confront constructively. Make your positive intentions clear at the start to minimize the possibility that your comments may be interpreted as blaming, shaming, or punishing (negative aspects of most confrontation). For example, you might begin by saying, "John, you and I are good friends. What do you think about this idea?"
  • I guess, it also depends on the listener's "self-awareness". Sometimes, cushioning too much doesn't help. The message may not get through... and worst still, sometimes might backfire.
  • Confront with acceptance and trust. Assume that the other person's intentions are good even if his or her actions are problematic. Acknowledge good intentions by saying, for example, "I know you want to be helpful, but …"
  • To give assurance that we appreciates one's effort, but its impact/outcome simply turns out otherwise.
  • Confront clearly. Report what you actually observe, what emotions you feel or sense that others feel, and what you conclude would be a good next step for the person you're confronting. For example, "I heard what you said to Mary" (observation). "It seemed to hurt her feelings" (emotion). "I'm sure you didn't mean to hurt her. Please apologize to her" (conclusion).
  • I like this - it's sweet and short. To the point! I think many of us would be able to say the first sentence, fall short the conclusion (i.e. the follow-up action).