I have been a teacher for close to 15 years but I guess I am still a very BT at heart. What do I mean by that?

I am always very emotionally attached to my students and cannot maintain a distance away from them.

Is that good or bad? I do not really know. I know that if my students do not do well for national exam, I have a tendency to blame myself and would be affected by it.

Well, it is perhaps this #overlyattachedtomystudents keep the passion for the teachers going.

PS: Actually, I am quite affected by the release of the PSLE results yesteday and I am trying my best to “run” away from my innate feeling . By trying not to think about it and burying myself in my thesis revision. When I am alone,  I start thinking what I have not done enough for my student. If I have done more, will the results be different? Is it because of my incompetency ? Indeed, there are many self-blaming questions circulating in my mind . If only I have ….

I will get by  this. Just give me the weekend to get emo and I will be back to my normal self. For I know I have done what I can for my student.

Just gimme time …

I finished my 21st km !

I went for the GE Women’s 21 KM run today. It took me 4 hours to complete the run  and at some points, it was even raining.

I am glad that I went and completed the 21km run. Why? As this is just more than run. It allows me to show my determination to complete something if I choose to. This will encourage me to go forward and do things in the face of difficulities.

If I can complete 21 km in 4 hours (I know it is slow), I can do anything. I need to have ‘positive’ thoughts to push me through as there is 101 things on my plate now. At times, I really feel overwhelmed.  Come on, I can do it. Becasue I am 打不死的小强.  I am ever-ready ever onward Andersonian!

Go! Go ! Go!

Teaching Maths in 2017 (Part 2 – Reflecting on P6 Maths Program)

For this part of the reflection, I am going to look  at Maths Program as stipulated by the department and how that can be further strengthened and improved. Generally, I have no issue with the bold and forward-looking strategies of the department (e.g. with no use of workbook, making mathematics reasoning visible through journalling, use of technology for formative assessment).

In fact, at the beginning of the year, I was excited about this.  But, a strategy is only as good as its execution. The devil is in the details and the implementation is even more challenging in the P6 critical year. The students are not enculturated in such way of mathematics learning and may not possess the necessary dispositions and skills.

(1) No workbook

In this year, students did not buy workbooks. Students were expected to do questions (in textbook) and referred to them whenever necessary.

But, I believe that this was the first year most of the students were experiencing this. The students might not have the habit to refer to the question in one place and their answer in another place.

This might create extra cognitive load for my students as they needed to flip to the relevant page (provided they had written the page and question number) and refer to their answers. My students were already ‘put off’ by maths and this extra step was not going to make them love Maths more.

I am all for the idea of ‘no workbook’ as this allows teachers more time to create meaningful learning experience for the kids. I do not dispute that.

But, the P6s might not be ready for this as this could be their very first year experiencing this. It would be good that if this has been implemented in earlier years (say P4). So, once they are in P6, they will have the habit with doing work in the exercise book.

(2) Making mathematics thinking visible through journalling

Students were to write a journal entry explaining their mathematics reasoning. This is a very good idea. But, our P6s might not have the necessary skills and disposition for meaningful and in-depth journalling. They were likely to provide journal entries that lacks depth.

Why? Again, this could be the first year they were doing mathematics journalling and they do not have the necessary skills and dispositions for such meaningful journalling. Meaningful journalling takes time and students should be trained over the years for that. We cannot leave it to the students to ‘journal’. They need to be trained over the years.

So, it would be good that the department can come up with some consistent scaffolds for such meaningful journalling over their 6-year. These scaffolds and structures would be used consistently over the 6 years.

I am definitely all for mathematics journalling.  This why I was doing a variant: Through making their mathematics reasoning through videos.

However, my challenge was finding the common scaffolds and apply these scaffolds consistently. It would be good that the Maths Department, with their wealth of expertise, can come up with something the teacher can use.

(3) Formative Assessment using technology

I am all for this provided this is meant for assessing the simple-to-do work problems (e.g., 1-mark or 2-mark mechanical word problems). I was using the platform extensively for my class and they enjoyed it. I would even give them differentiated problems based on their results.

However, the answers in the platform might not be correct at times, which might lead to misconception in students. For example, if 3.05 is rounded off to 1 decimal place, both 3.1 and 3.10 are both accepted. It would be good that the Maths Department can set up some Google Doc for the all Mathematics teachers to input such inaccuracies. This would help further strengthen the platform in terms of mathematical accuracy.

In essence, I am all for the bold and forward-looking vision for the Maths department. The question to ask: Are our student enculturated to this type of Maths learning?

Hence, there is a need to put structures and process in places over the 6 years to ensure the vision can materialize. It might be a challenge for a P6 Maths teacher to implement the strategies in class in which students are not prepared for over their years in school.

But, I am glad that I ‘somehow’ survived the year by making meaning of the bold strategies and contextualized them appropriately in my class.

Teaching Maths in 2017 (Part 1 – Reflecting on teaching maths my way)

This is the 2nd year I am teaching the most academically-challenged maths class. It is time to take stock on what I have done and see how best I can move forward next year. It just seems that I am destined to teach such group every year. I am more than happy to take up such challenge as I love to help this group of kids to clear Maths with minimally a E!


(1) Addressing students’ learning gaps in fundamentals

I try to close the gaps in their fundamentals that they are facing. However, I feel that I should have done more if I have been  more daring to “ditch the syallabus” and focus on their fundamentals”. Focusing on their fundamentals has to be done in Term 1 and should feature regularly in my maths lessons.  Like for a ten-period week lessons, at least 2 periods needs to be devoted to their fundamentals.  So, starting for next year, I am most likely to drown them with lots of mechanical sums in the very start. This can be achieved thru

(2) Making their reasoning visible through video recording

This is something I will continue next year. But, I would need to put in scaffolds in place to make their reasoning visible (e.g., stating the criteria). I have tried to scaffold their learning this year but I should have been more consistent in the way I use my scaffolds. I also ought to provide more feedback to my students about their video.

In essence, making their reasoning is vital and critical. It is challenging but it needs to be done. I do think about the scaffolds but somehow, after the 101 things I need to do, I sort of lose the discipline and am not very consistent in which I apply it. This is a note to myself. I must be more consistent and disciplined next year in the use of video in providing feedback !

And , I also need to allow my students to critque their peer’s videos. This is something I have not done this year.

(3) Gamification

Gamification of Mathetmatics learning (e.g., using Kahoot) is something that I will still continue to use next year.  Making mathematics learning fun is cruicial and I need to think more ways to gamify their learning. Perhaps, I should consider using MyDojo

Seeing my students excited and learning Maths spurs me on (even it means more hardwork for me as I need to input the questions!)

(3) No WB

This year, the Maths Department goes without the WB.  I do see the value in not using WB so that teachers can spend more time creating meanignful learning for the child. There is no need to ‘rush through the WB’.. But, having gone through a year without WB, I feel that it might be better for the kids to have WB so that they can refer to the worked examples. The current textbook examples are just not enough.  For this group of kids, I will position the WB as a ‘notebook’ in which the kids will take down the worked examples and do some do-able sums on their one,

So, what is my plan next year? Yes, the kids won’t have WB officially. But, I will buy WBs for them. In this way,  I do not have the pressue of completing every single question in the WB (well, it is my money anyway) but the kids will have more worked examples to refer to. A win-win situation!!!