Thursday, September 08, 2005

Mighty Mas and Flying Swallow

I can take a breather at last!

Ed psych presentation and EL Integration Task are finally over. I shall utilise the night for recovery, however undeserving I may be. But really, that's just a productive way of saying, "I ain't no doing nothing tonite!" ;-)

2 more micro-teaching sessions today, so here goes.

I don't know whether to congratulate Mas for her well-delivered lesson or her convincing acting. But I guess it's because she really got into her role as a teacher that she managed to pull off a fly lesson like a seasoned pro. On that note, I think it's really important to dive into your role if you're going to reap the full benefit of the micro-teaching sessions.

So yeah, Mas' class quite did it for me today. I thought she really carried it through with panache. She came across as being very confident and assertive (if not a lil dead-pan, wholly attributable to her health or lack thereof, I'm sure). This helped to capture her students' attention. But the real strength of her teaching was that she was able to seamlessly weave the various components of her lesson together, ensuring a smooth flow that captured my attention as a student. As a result, most of the class was on-task most of the time.

Another commendable point about Mas' lesson was her conscious attempt to modify the students' schema by emphasizing key words. Once when someone referred to a lot of trees, she corrected him by saying the right phrase to use was thick vegetation. I also noticed that made various attempts to emphasize keywords like 'emergents' and 'understorey'.

I also liked the way she framed her lesson. I thought the decision to frame the lesson as a field trip is very appropriate for a Secondary 1 class. That's a gd way to perk their interest. Much effort must've gone into the production of the well-conceived presentation. There are just a couple of things I thought she could've done differently. For example, I thought that instead of just flashing pics with the forest sounds playing in the background, there could be some sort of commentary. I think that would've made the lesson stronger. Her aim was to use BTNR as a case-study. But by flashing the pics, the unique nature of BTNR was not highlighted, as the pics could very well have come from any rainforest. More info could've been provided on the special characteristics of BTNR like the sort of endemic species or maybe an introduction to the different areas. By flashing generic pics, the exercise slipped into a somewhat behaviorist mode of identifying the right forest item.

In addition, I thought the presentation could've been better timed. The pic whizzed a tad too fast. I remember at one stage, a poem was presented. And the words were appearing like a quick succession of landmines across an open field. Any Sec 1 child would've been lost in the rapid bombardment of words.

Further, I thought the group activity on deforestation could've been made more relevant to students. It was good that students were taught the effects of deforestation and the pressures on the forest. But the problem of rampant development isn't that salient for BTNR. Perhaps she could've focussed on the human effects of litter on the forest environment. That would've been closer to the heart of the children.

A couple of things stood out for Yen Peng's lesson. Her approach was more teacher-centred than Mas'. But I think that might've been unavoidable, given the nature of the topic. However, I thought that her handout should've allowed for more student input, instead of providing all the answers for them. This only serves to encourage inattentiveness in class.

Further, she could've handled the Raksha-Wesley fiasco a lil more delicately. Firstly, perhaps she shouldn't have reproached Raksha for losing her wallet. Nobody wants shit to happen. Further, upon Raksha's accusations, I felt that it would have been better to check everyone's bag instead of just Wesley's, as just checking Wesley's bag could open a teacher up to accusations of prejudice.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I'm amazed how calming food can be.

I walked out of English class today with a baby universe unfolding in my cranium. I swear to God my head was going to explode from exhaustion, frustration and a gross overload of information. But as soon as I polished off the last bits of my Breakfast set, a calm surrender came over me. Sakyamuni couldn't have felt more at ease under the bodhi tree.

I hope this isn't the first sign that I'm one of those guys who start ballooning after they start working cos they binge to deal with stress. Hell no....

I'm kinda glad about the PTM role-play. It's gonna be a fresh new experience beyond the micro-teachings that have been taking place. Besides, I think it'll put us on a good steed when we do eventually have to face the Parents. I hope it doesn't turn into a farce considering most of us haven't quite gone the family way yet.

Rezal's Lesson
Quite an interesting scenario today. For once, hardly any inane 'inconveniences' were enacted. I thought the "debt collector" was hilarious - he deserves a prize for Most Congenial Loan Shark for maintaining a smile throughout. Having said that, I thought Rezal's approach was pretty good. He didn't come into direct conflict with Daren's character. I think Daren's character would've been even more upset if he were to be reprimanded for trying to get his money back - assuming the situation was genuine - never mind it wasn't the right time/place. But Rezal was calm, cool and courteous about it. That was good cos if he had come down hard on the student, some serious bad blood could've resulted between them.

The activity, however, could've been more well-thought-through. As a 'Special' student, I felt rather unengaged. Considering the article addressed both sides rather succintly, I felt that it was more an exercise in summary and there was lil to argue over. As a teacher, I wasn't too sure what the learning objectives were. If it was an opportunity for the students to exercise decision-making skills. Perhaps it would've been better for the class to be divided into 3 groups - Egyptians, Ethiopians and UN Officials. If it was for the class to hone their argumentation skills, perhaps it would've have been better for the class to seek out their own materials. The format pursued in class seemed merely to tax the students' summary skills. Also, at some points, I felt that the debate towards the end was just free-wheeling. It would've have been better if Rezal had stepped in to focus the class' attention on certain aspects or issues by asking some prompting questions.

That's all for tonite...time to get LOST.