Making their thinking visible through video

It is just after exams and I decide to let the students to make their thinking visible through video. I am quite pleasantly surprised by what they have given me just within 30 minutes. This is their first try. Yes, some of you may argue that these are easy problems but I am still very proud that they can explain it clearly

Actually, I had this crazy idea last year for this as I wanted the students to explain their questions in practice paper. I did not really get around doing that as I was  afraid that the students can’t produce “audioable” video and they have difficultly articulating their steps.

I am glad that I am proven wrong. They can do it if they know what they are doing.  The students have been watching quite a fair bit of youtube videos and they are trying to model after the You Tubers. Thus, creating a decent audioable video is not much of a issue for them.

As I watch their videos, I can hear snippets of “me” in the explanation especially in algebra and geometry problems. I am of course happy with that. I always celebrate small success as this is the only way to keep sane! Trust me, you need to be very positive and “Ah Q” when you are teaching academically challenging class. Perhaps, they just need to connect the dots together and have a breakthrough in their Mathematics!

What should I do next? Continue doing this but take note of the following:

(1) Set the success criteria

[Update] After going through the students’ videos, here are the things that I want the students to look out for when they are solving word problems:

  • Read the questions
  • Highlight the mathematical information (e.g., numbers and mathematical terms)
  • Explain the mathematical information in your own words
  • Explain each step clearly. Do not just say the number statement. Know why


(2) Give them doable problems.

(3) Model the problem solving process.

(4) Allow them the freedom of expression but emphasize the need for mathematical content accuracy.

Design Thinking Sharing at OCBC

It was quite an insightful sharing , with the OCBC staff sharing about their design thinking experience. The central argument in Design Thinking is to put the users at the centre of the whole design process. During design thinking,it is not what you think. It is what your users think.

That sets me reflecting on my learning practice. Am I designing lessons based on what I think and not what the students think? There is really a need to interrogate this assumption. Perhaps, I should do this more often by asking my students:

 “How has the lessons been for you? Can you offer suggestion as to how to improve”.

Students should be the central of our design learning experience. It should not be based on “this-has-always-been-the-way” or “textbook-SOW-say-so”. It should be “what-my-student-say-so”.

Updated : Happen to chance upon this article about Design thinking in education. Start with the learners. Hear their voices and design learning experience accordingly.

Be a Naysayer, do something worthwhile in your life

A short reflection on the posting : “Why Singapore needs more naysayers?” [Link]

This  ST Article makes me feel better about being a naysayer. I do s feel apologetic about being the “opposition” voice but I still continue doing that because it is simply not me if I do not do that. Even in HQ or at school,  I guess I am definitely not known to be a “civil-servant”.  I can be very critical and tend to ask questions. I guess I am not so “compliant-ready” and always a “why” person. And I simply hated this phrase, “that is what we have be doing.”.

Well, I will continue doing that. Why? Because if I do not stop doing that. I am doing the system a injustice. If I do not say what is wrong, I am part of the problem too


Before Exam Practice paper season

Next week in the CA1 week. So, how does the lesson before the exam looks like? No prize for guessing but it is going through practice paper. I go into the class and knowing that this is not going to help my students really that much. But, I still fall into the trap of doing so. Why? Because going through practice paper is the unspoken must-do. Parent will likely to feedback, HODs will question why practice paper is not done.

Practice paper only prepare the students for exams and do not prepare them for life. So, why are we still doing this? That brings me to the next question. Is our current assessment system future-ready or past-compatible?

iLEAD ~ ICT Leadership in EdTech and Design

Do I learn anything new at this workshop? If I say yes, I would be doing my years in NIE and my constant reading up on the ed tech trends an injustice. As someone who is always on the look out and read articles on ed-tech use, this workshop did not change my thinking. When I am asked to use this thinking routine “I used to think”, “now I think” I really do not know how to answer.  Finally, I come up with one cheeky answer. The buzz word is no longer TPACK. It is SLS pedagogical principal.  I know I am being very ego here. But, that is me. 🙂

What is more fruitful for me is the conversation that we have at the table. Hearing from my fellow colleagues about their concern and their vision for using ICT. Here is the rise above that I have for the conversations having today:

(1) Students’ thinking

(2) Collaboration

(3) Making time and space in SOW for technology-enabled learning

(4) Making time and space to plan for such SOW

Essentially, one of the gap that we have to fill up is the time and space for both planning and inclusion of technology-enabled learning. I have been trying to push for that but there as IP is not my area of control. Something needs to go , period.. And if we do not do there, we can never do anything. We are just adding on to the plate and there will not be sustained change. There is not much teachers like me who will literally go all way out to design ICT-enabled learning experience. On the system level, we need to create time and space for that.

The next gap is to have some common framing for thinking routine/peer and self critque across all department. It has to be over the six years journey and not just one-off lessons.

What does all that mean? There is a need to plan. Study the syllabus doc so as to see what can be effectively replaced by ICT.



Taking stock of Maths ICT-enabled activities

It has been almost 1.5 month and I would now list down the list of ICT-enabled activities I had planned for my students.

(1) Use of Nearpod/Socrative  for Formative Assessment

Like what I did for the past two years, I continue to use Nearpod/Socrative for my Maths lessons for formative assessment . This allows me to know what they have learned. Basically, the students submit their answers (with working) for Nearpod or answer a short-response or MCQ in Socrative. These answers would be instantly be available on my laptop which is of course connected to the project. Thus, the students’ answers are shown on the screen almost instantaneously. This is very much similar to a worksheet but their answers were shown on the white screen immediately. As the facilitator of the learning experiences, I need to think fast, build on the responses given and identify the possible learning gap.  I would discuss the answers and at times, get the students to articulate why some answers are wrong.

Just like my students last year, the students were petty excited. They were more motivated to get the right answer and would want to change the answer if their answers were wrong.  I ask my students why they were so energized by the Nearpod but not the worksheet. One boy replied, “All my friends can see my response on the screen”.  This was the way technology enabled learning as now their work is viewed by others rather than just the teacher. Without technology, clearly, this was impossible.

(2) Use of Seesaw for screencasting

I have just tried screencasting with my Maths students this week. This is my attempt to make their thinking visible. They had no problem in learning the platform and they can screencast within a 30 minute lesson. They are petty excited over it and would like to do more.

Of course, screencasting is only made possible by technology and this falls under technology-enabled activities. The students have no issue with the technical aspects but the challenging part is making their thinking visible. They have difficulty in articulating their rationale for the steps in the problem solving. This could possibly indicate that they do not really have a deep understanding of the problem. So, what can I do ? Guess I need to model more and perhaps give them some helping phrase.


Electricifying weeks!

It has been an electifying weeks for my P5 for the last few weeks. I hope that I have given them enough varied experience to get them to have a deeper understanding of electricity. Here are the things that I have done for me:

(1) Weekly Experiment Activities

(2) Writing about their experience both in their biology book and kidblog

(3) Electricity Simulation (

(4) Getting them to share videos on electricity.

(5) Using students’ answers as the “model answer” and give them success criteria.


Basically, I want them to think-do and not just doing without thinking. Due to the activities, they learned about other things like short-circuit. They are very intrigued and excited when they see something they can’t comprehend and ask me questions (especially on short-circuit). I am glad that they are curious and I will attempt to explain to them that “current also like to take the path which offers them the minimum resistance”

Compared to last year, I provide more opportunities to write. This stems from my reflection on last year in which students cannot explain their science answers clearly as there is too much spoon feeding. Afterall, spoon-feeding is the easy way out. This year, I do not want to repeat this mistake. I will work on their answers and get them to identify the mistakes.

So far, I can see that most of them have grasped the understanding and giving good explanations through their blog/journal entries. Let’s see how that pan out during CA1.

Thoughtful commenting and MTV through technlogy-enabled learning

This year, I want to focus on using technology to enable

(1) Thoughtful Commenting

(2) Making thinking visible through screencasting

How should I go about doing this? I would need to set success criteria for them and the success criteria should be generic to be able to apply through out the year.  However, for each topic, I would need to unpack specifically about the topic accuracy.

For thoughtful commenting, I would use the ladder of feedback

As for screencasting, I am thinking of modifying the rubrics at this link

Would be trying that out for the next few week. Will update this post and blog my reflections once that was done.

Illuminating students’ comments

“Thou one should not ignore the students’ comments”

As teacher in the classroom, sometimes, we can get too engrossed in finishing the syllabus that we would brushed aside students’ comments. We are too focused on the teaching and not on students’ learning. Sometimes, their immediate comments after some specific lesson activity can be illuminating and provide insights what they are thinking. Let’s face it, they are not “me”. How can I , then, assume that I know what they are thinking?

This week, my students made some insightful comments that make me modify my lesson on the spot.  Here are the two incidents:

(1) Mathematics – Geometry

In this geometry problem, there is a triangle enclosed within the parallelogram. I was trying to get them to identify the equally opposite angles in the parallelogram. Surprisingly, they could not seem to identify. I then asked them why they were not able to do so. One of the student commented, “But, there is a triangle there”. It is a simple but yet powerful comment that made me realize that they might have thought once the figures were “mixed up”, they could no longer apply the property.  I immediately explained to them that was not the case.

Since knowing they are “mixed up” over “mixed figures”, I would be mindful when I go through similar question with them.  This includes getting them to highlight the figure so that they can apply the relevant properties.

(2) Science – Wordy question

My students were supposed to do a question in the activity book. One of the student made this comment, “It is too wordy. I do not understand”. I was quite surprised as this question is not that wordy and that was even a picture to make the question clearer.  Instead of brushing off this comment and say “just read”, I decided to model how I would use the picture to help me understand the question.

Without looking at the text, I would look at the picture and tried to guess what was going on. This would give me some idea what the question was all about. I then read the question to “double confirm” my guess.

Being cognizant of the challenge my students were facing “wordy problem”, in my subsequent lessons, I would make it a point to model how to use the picture (if any) to best understand the question.