Friday, September 23, 2005


It was Geognut and Raksha3's microteaching sessions yesterday, and both of them went through the same topic on Industries (by now, all of us know that it won't be included in the syllabus for 2007. *Sob*). Geognut started on a good note-- we can see that the lesson had been carefully prepared-- there was a lot of attention to details and careful delivery of additional information. There was also group work for us. However, despite this, Geognut's class sounded like a drill and practice session after a while, because I think too much content is being covered. To his defence, I would like to say that i have taught this topic before, and i found it hard to pace the lessons because it is sooo content heavy. perhaps it is too ambitious to fuse together two large components (least cost theory model and the factors for industrial location) despite the fact that we cannot teach one without the other. Students must be given time to absorb the information, and we also need to factor time in case we need to re-explain something, even if it is a very good class.

Also, there are gaps between knowledge-- there is no explicit information on globalisation in the textbook for this topic. As such, students may find it difficult to relate technological development with the extent this influences the decision making of firms. It is very tricky to define globalisation because it is both visible and invisible-- it is everywhere around us, but we take for granted because it functions day to day, most of the time. So to target a working definition for our students nay also be difficult because technically, they do not need to know anything about it, but they need the definition to help them understand the topic better. But good try overall, Geognut-- you handled the disruptive students with a firm hand.

With regards to Raksha3's lesson-- I thought that it was well paced, and that it was useful to assign a project to students whereby they need to research on other industries. This will allow them to have other resources to quote during exams, as well as allow them to apply the facotrs for industrial location onto other indutrial estates. I felt that it was useful for her to include a map of Bangalore in her powerpoint slides as well as show pictures of other areas of Bangalore so that students will get a contextual understanding of the industrial estate. Again, it was a monster of a case study, so pacing of content is again, important. The class was probably tired after the whole hooha during Geognut's session, so we were relatively subdued. I think perhaps Raksha3 could have elicited more student response so that she wouldn't feel like she is driving the lesson on her own energy. Responsive students make our day. :)

This entry is waaay too long.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

What do we do with colour blind students taking Geography?

So far, we have been emphasizing visuals in our microlessons. But what do we do when there are students in our classes who are colour blind? I had a classmate who was colour blind when I was in Secondary school. He had problems telling the colour of the precipitate during chemical experiments. As a result, our chemistry teacher asked another classmate to partner him during lab sessions. But we teased him a lot when we found out. However, he doesn't seem to have this problem during Geography. I don't know whether if he didn't admit that he was having problems because he's afraid of the class teasing him again, or if it was geniune that Geography was less a problem to him.

I wonder if we can have any suggestions?

Regarding AWOL students

There were students who left class without permission on Friday. I think these are the ones who are likely to be entering other teachers' classes without permission to "sit in" with their friends (see my comment "illegal squatters"), or loiter around. In the school I was with for contract teaching, ther was a class diary in each class so that the subject teacher can feed back to the form teacher. Alternatively, you can speak to the form teacher of the class or your HOD regarding this student. IF you are the assistant or form teacher, then you'll have to call these students' parents about this issue.

Also, it was common for teachers NOT to give the sutdents toilet break when their lessons occur just after recess. because they are supposed to settle whatever business they have DURING recess, not class time.

"We are playing rock music"...

It was icydolphin's turn to microteach yesterday, and perhaps because Geognut was absent, the class went into riot mode to compensate(Geognut, are you listening?) . Even the usually quite students acted up. What i like about icydolphin's lesson was that we were given huge rock samples to touch and anaylse. In school, I doubt if all Geog depts are as well equiped. I egged ELzap to play "rock music" as well as to take back his confiscated ipod (sorry, sorry, icydolphin! :P). To Elzap's credit, he didn't want to do the things listed above at first (now I know that my classmates were such "gwai" students). I want to say that icydolphin's reaction time was very fast-- the moment she could hear music, she zoomed in on the correct table. And she was firm-- she made it clear to Elzap that he can't play the ipod because "the rest of the class cannot hear" her lesson; not because "I said so". So the individual's ownership of the lesson is made clear. Hmm, regarding Elzap taking back his ipod-- when Li Yan was giving us a lift to Boon Lay MRT, icydolphin said that she knew that the moment the ipod was gone, Elzap had taken it. She said that usually, when she confiscates expensive items she will keep them by her side, but because today, she not familiar with the layout of the class (we only do microteaching once), and she was nervous, so she forgot.

I feel that the some of the charateristics of rocks listed inside the worksheet icydolphin gave us were very subjective. For example, the worksheet asked us if the rock was "hard or soft" and whether it was "heavy or light". These are relative terms, and I feel that without standardised measuring instruments, the students will not have a clear understanding of what these terms require them to examine. For example, the students can be provided with a weighing scale to compare whether rock A is heavier than rock B, etc. Or icydolphin can tell students to scratch the surface of the rock with a 20 cent coin to test its hardness. If the rock is easily scratch, it is soft. Etc. But overall, i feel that the microteaching session on Friday was very well done. Thanks, icydolphin!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"Call out his name, his class, and tell him to get out of your class!"

I actually said the above words on Friday during the debrief session when Kenneth asked what we'll do when a student becomes an "illegal squatter" in your class and refuses to get out. I'm sorry to say this, but I've experienced this quite often during my contract teaching and my school experience. The students will come over to another class if they know that 1) you are new to the school and do not know the students that you teach, 2) the principal/ Vice principal/ OM is not in school, or 3) it is a relief session in their class/ your class.

I'm also sorry to say this, but these students who squat illegally also have a history of discipline problems. They have a reputation in the staff room, and during my contract teaching, there is a discipline file you can acess on the school's LAN, euphemistically entitled, "Students Who Need Our Care and Concern". The good news is that these students with discipline problems are ok once you get to know them, and once they have settled whatever matters that are preoccupying their time and attention, their focus on school life and school work will return.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Going through the Motion..

I am very frustrated at the pace of life as a trainee teacher. It seems like we are just clearing one assignment after another before being sent off to schools. And the benefits of doing them are often not very clear. I know about Steve Jobs' speech about connecting the dots backwards and trusting in yourself, and I also know that i should not bite the hand that feeds me. Well, today, I shall only nibble on that said hand. :P

I don't want to think that much, but part of me feels that I should have the time to reflect on what I have learnt more carefully before moving on. One day, when I look back at this part of my life, i hope that I can laugh. And laugh, and laugh...

Teaching Tropical Rainforests to a Class of Monkeys

It was K.n's microteaching session yesterday-- kudos to her for her patience with the class! After so many sessions of microteaching, I think we have caught up on our lost time as teenagers. :P The class was rowdy and uncooperative, butK.n remained calm throughout. Perhaps the class' impatience might be due to the fact that tropical rainforests and hunters and gatherers were taught in Sec 1 for Geography. K.n could have linked what she is teaching to what the students have learnt about Tropical Rainforests and hunters and gatherers during Sec 1 through maybe a video or a class discussion. In that way, she wouldn't need to provide them with as much information.

Uncooperative students in the class were made to see K.n after class as punishment. I don't think this strategy worked after a while, because it seems like the whole class had to stay back because of one infringement or another as the students got more and more "bo chap" and daring. At this point in time, i think it is very effective for a teacher to lose her temper... heheheh.. :P By this, I mean that K.n could have made it clear to us that she was very dissapointed with our behaviour, and that she is going to deprive us of the game and prizes she had planned for us for the latter part of the lesson. Or something else? My CT introduced the concept of competition-- when the class wouldn't behave, he'll tell them that other classes are performing better than them, and if they do not buck up, they will continue to lose out.

Above all, I want to say this despite all the mistakes we have made during microteaching, one thing is very clear -- very few people are born to teach. Teachers are made. Let's try or best, and don't be disheartened, ok? Good luck for our assignments. Grrrr!