“Crazy” enough to use technology during PSLE revision

I guess some people might might be thinking that I am crazy to using technology during this intensive PSLE revision. “What! Technology!” Are you crazy? It wastes time . Just go through more revision paper with them  like what others are doing! ”

Of course, I beg to differ with that. The use of technology in class is not for fun or for show. It is meant to enable learning. It has always been my philosophy of using technology in class and will always be.

So, what’s up in my P6 Science Revision class this week? Having gone through three weeks of the typical drill of Science Revision (practice paper-go through), I decide to give it a slight twist this week.  I am using Plickers and Google Form as formative assessment tool.

(1) Plickers as Entrance Tickets

I choose some representative MCQ questions to elicit their understanding on revision topics at the start of the lesson (about ten minutes). These questions would be shown on the projector screen. I have given each pupil a individual Plicker card and they are to bring it every day.  I plan to do this regularly.

Students are generally very enthusiastic about answering the questions. Unlike the previous Plicker sessions, I have input their names in the system. Thus, I know exactly who had gotten it wrong and would try to address their misconception.  I could either approach them individually after lessons or invite them to talk about their answers in class.

One problem I am facing is that the students might not able to see the question on the screen clearly. I need to fit the question on the screen and the question could appear small.

For the coming week, I am considering rinting out the MCQ questions for them to share

(2) Google Form As Quiz

I have used the new quiz feature in Google Form.  The students are to do their MCQ on the paper and submit their answers through Google Form [Link] as well.  When their answers are submitted, the students could view their score and mark their work. Correct answer won’t be given for the wrong answer.  The students are to do their own correction. I also allow them to google for information if there is a need. In the next lessons, I would review the “problematic” questions based on their responses as shown by the Google Form


The very motivated students attempted the questions again to get the full marks. I do not expect that as I would only want them to do their correction on the paper. On the other hand, I also have a group of students who have the mentality “Just-Get-It-Over-And-Done-It” mentality. This could be due to the fact that I allow them to surf the Web for Science Information after they have completed the quiz.

Having observed that, I decide to set a new rule for my next Google Form Quiz. Students are to try the quiz for at least three times  or scored full marks (whichever is earlier) before they can serve the Web. At least, I can force my “Just-Get-It-Over-And-Done-It” to think just that bit more.






Getting Right about Light

Having allowing my P4 students to experience light, it is time for them to write about their experience.  They were enjoying the activities last week  but were they able to articulate their experience? Using their written work as the formative assessment, I have a clear picture of their understanding and the areas I need to work as shown below:

(1) Explanation not detailed

They generally only give the “what” and forget the “so”.  For example, in explaining why they can see the torch, they just write “Torch is a light source”.  There is no explanation how they can “see the torch”.

Follow up action: Give them the answer frame for such light-related question

What : Does the object give off light or reflect light?

So : Light from XXX gets into my eyes.

I think it is important to get them to get them into the habit of giving clear scientific explanation. They have to use the date given in the question (“what”) and explain with the scientific concept (“so”) that is unpacked in the current context

(2) Misconception

Everything reflect light. This is not true as light source gives off light and does not reflect light


Post-lesson Reflection

Students might be fully engaged in the activities and seems to know what is going on. Engagement without reflecting about their experience might not translate to deep learning. We cannot simply conclude that they are learning just because they are engaged in the activities. The students need to make their learning/thinking visible so that we can close any possible learning gap. I would be giving them more “thinking aloud” activities so that that they can show me what they know.


Light Bulb No. 1

Making afternoon 2-hr extra lesson count!

It is the PSLE season. So, what is the No 1 to-do to help your students? *Drum roll* It is none other than extra lessons!!

Yes, l hold extra lessons for my Maths class too.  That is important for them as at least they do some meaningful watch under my watchful “hawk” eyes.  I am trying to fine tuning my extra lessons so to keep them focused.  After all, getting students to study in the afternoon for 2 hours is no easy feat.

Last week, I allowed them to do a Paper 1 within 50 minutes and went through the paper with them. I personally felt that the session could be better as I can sense my students were only physically in class.  They were losing focused and yes, they were getting bored.  On reflection, this could be due to the lengthy going-through (about 1 hr) after doing the paper.

For this week lesson, I adopt a different approach. I break the lessons into a series of 4 1/2 mini lessons.  For the first 2 lessons, it is about revising volume and algebra concepts.  Within the half an hour, they are to do some questions with their peers. Then, I will round up the lessons by going through with them.

For the final 2 lessons, they are to do Paper 2 (about 5 questions). They are to spend about 30 minutes on the the 5 question  For the first 15 minutes, they are to do it on their own before discussing with their friends. For the final mini lesson, I invited them to share their answers on the board.

Overall, I feel that my Week 2 extra lesson is more fruitful. This could be due to peer learning and the mini-lessons. They enjoy learning with one another even though they might get rowdy at times. There is variety in the lessons and the kids do not get bored. Also, the questions and the concepts chosen are “reachable” for them.  It is not too easy but not too difficult for them.  It makes me happy to hear them thinking aloud and pointing out their peer’s mistake.  

I have to admit my boys are unfocused at times and need my “not-so-friendly” remainders constantly. But, what is new? Boys , being boys, will always have the knack of making teachers angry :-).

Lighting up P4 Light Lessons with Light Sensors!

My P4 class has some very practical hands-on light lessons this week.

  1. Experience the light sensor with Addest DataLogger [Link].
  2. Seeing how light sensor can be used in Scratch Programming  with the use of PicoBoard [Link].

The main rationale of these activities is to get them to explore and explain the use of light sensors. Through these activities, the students are doing science.  They need to see the relevance of what they have learned in real life.

Overall, the students enjoy the lesson and more importantly, the teacher (aka me) , also enjoy the lesson.  :-).   How I wish I can have such real-life science lessons for all my science lessons!

Here are some learning points from the experience.

(1) Getting them to do in groups of 3 (for pico board) helps to cut down logistics issues. There would always be the knowlegable other who can “tackle” the technical issues.

(2) The student would be too excited to listen to you once they know they are going to do something exciting. The only thing I can do is to give minimal instructions so as to give them started.

(3) Minimal instructions for Addstation Lightsensor

  • Showing them how to connect the light sensor to the relevant channel
  • Show them how to navigate to select the relevant light channel
  • Get them to use the stylus. The screen is not touch-screen. It is my student who discovered the stylus.  🙂 I am glad that my student know more than me!

(4) Minimal instructions for PicoBoard at Scratch 1.4

  • Show them the mini-USB cable and that can be connected to the laptop. I did not do that during my lesson (as I assume my students would know it). Some of my students were confused as to which wires to use as there was some wires in the pack.
  • Plug the Pico Board in the laptop and get them to wait till they see that the driver is fully installed.
  • Start up Pico Board and get them to check that Pico board is “talking” to Scratch before programming
  • Show them the scripts to control the sprite

What am I going to do next?  I will need them to explain their experience. This is lacking in this week lessons. I do not provide opportunities to make their thinking visible (you should know that this is the buzz phrase that won’t go wrong:-)) . I will either get them to blog about their experience or jot down their thoughts in the biology book.



Starter Activities for light

This week,  my P4s are learning light.

To start off this topic, I make use of the “Silent Video and Answer Garden” [Link] . This helps me to elicit their prior knowledge. I then go on and build on their answers and have a fruitful classroom discussion on light using words or phrases that they have provided[Link].

To test their understanding of light, I make them think about how the invisibility cloak could work and they post on the Dot storming Board. For the next lesson, I make use of what they have posted to start on my next topic on “What happens when light hits an object?”.  I also show them some videos on invisibility cloak to reinforce the concepts [Video Link 1 , Video Link 2, Video Link 3]

Overall, I feel the starter activities really help me in eliciting their prior knowledge. Through their posting, the students do have some concepts on light (e.g., photons, speed of light). As a teacher, we should work on their prior knowledge. It is all about extending their schema and not about allowing them to create a new schema and hence creating unnecessary cognitive load. The use of Answer Garden helps me to get their feedback in real time and it really helps me to save time!

The  “star” of this week lesson is the  invisibility cloak. This really piques their interest on light as it seems so magical and yet real (all thanks to Science!) By showing the how scientists are actually designing the invisibility cloak, my student can see for themselves how  the lights concept they learn in just P4 can be applied in real life.

PSLE Chionging Term 3

It is Term 3 and it is the final lap for my graduating students. I am really giving it all to my graduating classes and hope that this will help them in some way.   It is practice-paper time and I hope to make such practice paper more engaging for my students.  I would feel bored with myself if I found myself just “going through” papers for the rest of the term.

Here are the things that I have planned for my students


Getting them to see beyond practice paper. Trying to teach them the skills to understand the questions more deeply.  This include:

(1) Highlighting generic skill like giving clear scientific explanation. Trying to use the so-what frame so that they can be clearer in their explanation

(2) Getting them to identify mistakes rather than just giving them answers

(3) Peer learning.  Getting to learn with one another by discussing MCQ answers and revision topics

(4) Allowing time in class to allow them to write what they know about certain topics.  Hope this will get them started on revising (at least for some of them). Some of them might not know how and what to revise. Hope that such revision-in-class will get them started


(1) 3 questions per day to get them to start revising

(2) Peer learning. Will get them to work in groups for Paper 2 questions

(3) Making visible what they have learned through screencasting.

Not too sure how things will turn out. I will just constantly fine-tune along the way.