The Exploration of Past, Present, Future

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Wow, it's been such a long time since I last blogged that I forgot my password to log in! "It's in the periphery of my mind. Remember it!" I told myself. After several failed attempts to get my password and a few choice words at my PC, I realised that it's because my firewall blocked out the cookies. Slap in face.

Speaking of peripheral memory, today's Geog lesson talked about how students in our periphery vision are often neglected. How apt, as I'm guilty of that during my contract teaching. So focused I was on the students in front of me that I forgot to focus on the students at the sides! And for some strange reason, all the quiet ones almost always ends up at the edges of the class. Perhaps it's a conscious decision by teachers to place the more notorious students in front of the teacher so that any acts of mischief could be instantly noticed. Of course, that means that these poor, good, quiet students got sidelined to the sides where they will forever be lost in obscurity unless the teacher makes the effort to remember that they still exits. Which this teacher doesnt. Ops.

However, in Ken's microteaching today, I found that he was initially quite aware of things happening around the class. For instance, while dealing with the handphone theft fiasco on one end of the classroom, he could still spot Yizhen eating on the other end of the class. Interestingly though, after Yizhen's 'crying scene', that vision suddenly disappeared! Soft spot, Ken? Tsk tsk! :P

But it does bring up an interesting issue - knowing MOE's protective stance towards students (and their Public Relations Officers), some students intentionally and deviously expliot the loophole, thinking that they could get away with it. How then does a teacher handle it without crossing the line and yet still be able to exert control over the class?

Speaking of control, electronic gadgets again, seem to be the centre of attention and a source of conflict in class. Again. But being expensive and rather sought after accessories, most schools have actually disallowed them or at least have restricted its use to a few choice students (in the case of handphones). Since these are 'banned items', how many students would actually dare to raise a fight over their loss, presumably to another classmate? For that matter, I think thiefing students in schools these days are more sophisticated in their methods than we would like to give them credit for. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there seems to be a lot of fights these days over electronic gadgets. Time to move on, perhaps?

Time for me to move on too... to my bed. Zzzz..... more tomorrow! :)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Yups! It's over! :-)



To be honest, I was in two minds as to which level I should teach. Express/Special or N(A)/N(T). Given that I had taught Express/Special during my contract teaching and school experience, I decided on the latter group. (For those who are sick and tired of being disruptive kids, apologies!!! :P)

So, I had to do earthquakes. Again, I was in 2 minds what I should include in my lesson. I had found 3 clips and a few audio files (listening to earthquakes). To be honest, I was more biased towards the latter but the question was how do I incorporate it into my lesson so that it's comprehensible to the Normal students?

Having thought about it till milk curdled, I realised that it's an uphill task that is almost impossible to accomplish given the simplicity of the subject content, lack of time left and made worse by the fact that most learners are visual rather than audio learners... so that was scrapped and clips it was...

By that time the decision was made, it was already Monday. Great. I thought then that it was compulsory to submit the lesson plan before the actual microteaching and so I was in a bit of a fluster, having to prepare for lessons and at the same time, having to think about how on earth to write up the lesson plan AND having to catch with with whatever else I had to do for the rest of the modules. Add to that the bad day I had on Tuesday, this pretty sums up a pretty bad week for me. Im glad that's over for sure!

Oh, did I mention that I prepared for a 50minute lesson instead of 30? I overlooked the factor that NA classes have a shorter period, so had to re-do my lesson plan :P It did give me some focus on what I had wanted to do for my lesson though so I'm not going to complain much.

Ok, so back to clips. I had the option of using all three clips or using just one. Since 2 of the clips are pretty similar, I decided that one clip is good enough and that if time permits, I'll use the other clip to reinforce what I had to say about lateral faults. Then, I ran into a problem. I had thought up of all the activities for each section and what I was going to say but how do I link all the different parts up? This is particularly a headache in trying to link up the introduction and the body since there was a jump from a general idea of what an earthquakes is to how it happened and I did not want to give the definition straight up without them having to watch the clip.

For this part, I have Shou Wee to thank. Thank you!!! :-) Drawing on student's schema! hahhaha... so therein comes the fake nephew's definition! Hee!!!

Actual Lesson

Exercise Routine - Actually that was impromptu. I did it cause I was nervous and wanted to get MY nervous energy out before starting the lesson. Hehe and this was under the guise of getting the students to be more awake for my lesson hahahha! However, I did feel that some (most?) of you students were not as enthusiastic in doing the exercises so I think this 'technique' would have to depend on the type of class that you get. Not all students will be as enthusiastic about getting up from their seats and doing what is considered 'stupid' exercises.


Despite the exercises, I still felt pretty tense. Im not sure if any of you caught it, but I was trying to keep my cool and organise my thoughts. I was having sort of a mental block, not knowing what I was supposed to do. Good thing I had written down the gist of what I was supposed to doand had it right in front on the table. Cheating hahahha :P Anyway, cause of the block that i had, I felt that I was unclear when addressing the 'class', particularly when I was referring to what 'was taught previously'. So that was I thought not a very good start. I think I only started to settle down abit towards the middle of the lesson. That was when my volume became a bit louder?


Ok, personally, I felt that flopped cause I did not set the right tone with the class. I had wanted to have a quiz-like situation where the students were abit more enthusiastic about finding and giving the answers but since I did not set the right tone, (add to the fact that I did not really think about how to create a more lively session) that became more like 'look at the clip and give me the answer' session. Also did not think of a reward system. Not enough time. Only printed the worksheets right before the lesson :P So that did not go down too well I felt...

Discipline: Thank you all! I think I have it lucky since all the 'bad students' are so sick of being bad that they turned good :P I have to say though that for Mas, I didnt really think that she was sick at first. I thought that she was sleeping in my class :P

China boy: very exaggerating but gosh I seriously didnt know how to handle it so had to refer to 'after lesson' strategy :P

On hindsight, a lot of 'after lesson' students I have to meet hor?


Hahah, mind map. I actually forgot what I was supposed to write for the first part - definition of an earthquake. So I got you to refer to your own notes that you made instead, another cock up :P I also forgot about our missing sick students!!! TOTALLY!!!

Kean Fan pointed out something to me after the lesson though - I should collec the worksheet instead of asking them to bring it back, makes sense. Thanks!

Ok, a lot more things to write but Im running out of time. Gotta run to meet you peeps at NUS!!! LaterzZZ.....!!!!!!!!!!! :))

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Wrong side of the bed?

Thing is this - I do not have a bed, only a mattress that lay against the wall. As such I could not understand how on earth I managed to get out the wrong side of it cause today is a really horrible day! Everything felt wrong and anything that could go wrong went wrong. Murphy's having a field day with me. So I just had to rant:

1) Woke up at freaking 7am wondering why the alarm didnt go off (when I could have slept till 9am!)
2) Looking through my house wondows - weather is sunny and sky is blue.
Looking through my helmet visor - dark clouds, POURING rain and NO shelter
3) Drenched and pissed, I went to NIE bookshop to get dry t-shirt and shorts - only NIE t-shirt ($9.90 btw) and NO shorts. Auntie directed me to minimart near NTU LT2. "Confirm have ah!"
4) Minimart's near HALL 2
5) Of course leading to - late for class in totally drenched jeans and undergarments
6) After 1st lesson - Had to get dry shorts!!! So? Late for 2nd class lah!
7) After-dinner dessert - dripped on my just changed dry shoes.
8) Pillioning my friend and about to exit carpark - the bike almost dropped on its side. Bruise!
9) Going to friend's place to collect XP OS - got XP Office
10) On route to friend's place - a guy likes me sooo much that he felt that he should muster up whatever machismo he had by showing off his driving abilities and his car... abruptly and right into my lane. No warning, no signals. I was inches away from being 'loved' to death together with my friend. 'Nice' move. Too bad I wasnt impressed enough to get his carplate number so that I can drop him a letter.
11) With all these going on, backache!!!
< /rant >

Yups, that about sums up the 'nice' day i had. Almost couldnt make it home to even write this up though that means that I'll still have to do micro-teaching on Thursday!!! But hey, I'll rather micro-teaching than be floating somewhere up there. So that's a HUGE relief...

I suppose we must always look at the roses among the thorns too, if not I'll go crazy. At least from this horrible day, I now know that NIE doesnt sell shorts and the minimart that does is at HALL 2. I also now own a (not too bad looking blue) shorts and another t-shirt, broke the rules of MOE by wearing scandalous clothing with justification, washed and dried my bike cloth, got a free massage and dinner and realised that I need to polish up on my riding skills and techniques. Anyone with any tips?

Oh, and Im still ALIVE!!!

< /positive balance >

Hope tomorrow is a better day...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Monkey King

MacRitchie again:
To all the jokers out there...

Help me!!!

Turtle in Distress -
took this at MacRitchie and this poor thing was trying
desperately to get up on solid ground to no avail...

Kimono Tree

somehow this reminds me of a kimono...

Shou Wee's Volcanoes

Shou Wee's Showy Display

By showy, I meant it in a good way :)

A very organised and well thought out lesson plan. Nothing really bad to say really and I particularly liked the part where she used tapioca to show how the viscosity of the lava affected the steepness of the volcano. Im sure that the students who saw that will go away from the lesson with a very powerful image. Too bad there wasn't enough time to actually carry out the activity within the time frame. This is getting to be quite common I noticed and in fact, was exactly what I faced when I was contract teaching as well. Inability to cover the lesson within a period. I guess given our propensity to try and convey as much information as possible in as short a time and being distracted by students, we often find time to be against us.

Another observation both in school and during micro-teaching: we tend to focus on those who are noisy/attention seeking and the quieter ones who may need help are often ignored, assumed to know what is being taught. Human nature I suppose but an area worth looking into I think...

And I dont know about the rest of you but the more micro-lessons that's being conducted, the more nervous I become! Especially since this Thursday is my turn and I haven't thought of how I am going to conduct it?!!?! ARGH!!!!!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Micro-teaching - Liyan and Yizhen

First off, I think i'm a very bad actress. What should I do?!?! Any one has any ideas on how to act convincingly?! Ok, I havent gotten out of the adolescence ego-centrism stage apparently. Test: whose theory is that???

Liyan's Karsts

Liyan has managed to state the objectives of the lesson right in the beginning of the lesson though I feel that clearer instructions could be given before giving the worksheets to the students as there wasnt too much information with regards to the point of doing the worksheet. As such there was a certain amount of confusion from some 'students' as to how activity A is different from activity B.

I also thought that it was a great move to include a physical sample for the students but it would be even better if we could touch it. Then again, if those samples were my own personal collection, I wouldn't allow the students to touch them either.

Innovative touch by asking the students to put their EZlink cards and IC in front of them as a form of classroom management but there is still the question of what to do once the card has been confiscated as after the cards were taken, the 'trouble kid' had more reason to start trouble again.

Another point to note: Although Liyan had a very serious attitude in terms of conducting the lesson, she wasn't really consistent in maintaining discipline. This could be due to her anxiety to conplete the lesson but for the students, it could be misconstrued as being 'biased'.

Yizhen's 'Rift Valley'

Ah yes, the *ahem* 'rift valley' comment with the accompanying clip which Kean Fan decided to keep out of public eyes Question: The comment made was pretty mild and interpreted as sort of a 'compliment' in a way. What if the comment was something more explicit and bordering on sexual harrassment? Does it mean that just because the person in question is a minor, s/he can get away with it? What is a teacher to do when a student makes 'private' comments about him/her? Does the teacher pretend not to hear it and let it go, confront the issue straight on with the student in front of the entire class or use humour to divert the issue?

Personally, if someone were to make a comment about me, I'll make sure that said person gets my own personalised version of Ferguson's hairdryer treatment. But since we are all supposed to be perfect teachers with mother teresa's heart despite what's thrown our way, I believe humour is the best medicine for comments that are made in jest and good humour but for the more serious ones, I would handle it on the spot and let the class know that in no uncertain terms how I feel about their comments. Damn the lesson plan. Hm.. maybe except during practicum :P

As for the lesson itself, I felt that Yizhen was well prepared and handled the lesson well despite not being able to log on to the internet to get some of the materials/diagrams that she needed AND having to deal with everything that went wrong. It would have been the worst day of any teacher's life. So although I felt that she was a little easily distracted and that brought about a seemingly lack of focus in her lesson, given that she has to go through the whole gamut of craziness in the class, it was handled well :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Compilation of thoughts

Life has a way of passing you by without you being aware that it's come and gone. Well, I've been meaning to update my blog for some time and today is the day!

Steve Jobs' Stanford Commencement Speech

Great speech indeed! Sadly, it also brings out the contrast between the Americans' and Singaporeans' attitudes towards failure as well as ability to cope with challenges that come our way. I've put up a transcript & ZIP file of the speech. Unfortuantely, for such an inspirational speech, Ive uploaded it in a most uninspiring manner. I shall resolve this after learning Dreamweaver.


First of all, I would like to say that it was very brave of you to be the first one up for microteaching. Limited time and with no guidelines/models before you, I have to say that it was quite a good job that you have done in that you tried your best to control the students and get the lesson moving on despite the disruptions.

Observing Chan Ying's lesson also brought to front the usual problems that teachers face when conducting a lesson.

Time Management/Lesson Plans

- For my EL lesson today, we covered lesson plans and one of the issues raised by one of my classmates was why was it necessary to indicate the time for each aspect that you are trying to cover. After all, if a certain activity is very well received, arent we as teachers allowed the leeway to actually make changes on the spot? On the other side of the coin, if the students are not behaving well, do we still carry on with an activity that is fun and thereby sending out the message that it is ok to be rowdy?

Personally, having done contract teaching (without a lesson plan and time management), I am able to contrast the way I taught then with the way I taught when I had to follow the time frame in the lesson plan during the school experience. I realised that with no time management, I tend to ramble on and on alot, especially on a specific point that I felt was important. As a result, lessons sometimes ended dangling, with no resolution. With a time frame however, I found myself being more conscious of the amount of time I was spending and it gave more focus. Having said that though, I have to say that lesson plans are a pain in the ass :P

Organisation (of class and lesson)

- another ulcer in the mouth situation. Especially when you think that the students understand the instructions that you have given. That is not always the case however. So I guess the question is how do we make our instructions clear? That was most evident when I was giving instructions to the class on a group activity and I thought I was making lots of sense but the students were all *blank* and did not know what to do.

How about the lesson? How do we make organise and make links that helps students understand key concepts? I will never forget the time when I had to teach map reading to a sec 2 express class. I used various methods, organised my lessons differently and explained in as clear a manner as I thought I could. I explained till the cows came home, throat as dry as a desert, veins, arteries and capillaries almost popping, perspiring like a waterfall and stinking to high heavens.

Results : half the class failed while the other half was bored stiff cause I kept repeating things they had already grasped

Needless to say, that was a huge blow to my self esteem and self confidence.


I'm still using ancient Windows 98 (out of choice cause I feel that it's more stable + I refuse to give Microsoft more money for a different version of a same product)

However, looks like I will have to succumb soon looking at how this antique OS cant support iTunes, Dreamweaver trial version and god knows what else. Anyway, before I reformat and reinstall XP, I thought I better try and get my hands dirty with the initial steps of podcasting in case something goes wrong and my PC goes kaput! At least there's some backup stuff. Not sure if I'm doing this right though... so here's 2 test clips...

Test Podcast 1
Test Podcast 2

Ok, gotta go sleep... been staying up too late too often... stoning in class!!!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Finally it's up!

Welcome to my blog! It's obviously in its infancy but I'm sure with time, it'll be teeming with life!

Enjoy your holidays peeps!