Monday, May 14, 2018

Hyperboles Are So Interesting, I Can Talk About Them All Day

But then, of course, it was too late…

The garbage reached across the state, 

From New York to the Golden Gate.

Shel Silverstein

While most people think of me as a mathematics person, my day job, without which I will have to eat sand, involves dealing with teaching and learning in all subject areas and arm twisting colleagues to maximise student learning.

In an ordinary day, which seems like a second long, roaming the campus of a school which is the size of China, I might get to observe anything between four and a million lessons.

Yesterday, I benefited from a bunch of mathematics, science and language lessons. 

And some lessons involved concepts I knew nothing about.

I saw our kindergarten children learning the lower case letters that are taller than they are. I saw a boy doing intensive English Language because apparently he has zero English. I saw Primary 2s doing a lesson on vocabulary and Primary 5s doing a lesson on hyperbole, as part of their learning about figurative language.

I knew nothing about hyperboles but now I find them so interesting I can talk about them all day.

As I watch each lesson, I often brainstorm for ways I might teach the lesson if I were the teacher.

Not that the lessons were inadequate. 

But thinking how I can tweak the lesson so that it does more than the existing one in terms of realising the school's vision.

Say, a lesson on hyperbole. Now, a person like me would never use hyperboles. So the lesson was interesting to me.

What if it was up to me?

I would give students a list of hyperboles in everyday conversation. Print them in slips of paper. Put them in baskets. Ask students to each pick one they think they know the meaning of. Have them explain to each other the meaning of their hyperbole.

Then I would gather them at the meeting area. I would ask them to say how the different sentences are alike. The conclusion I am driving at is the fact that each sentence contains at least one exaggeration. I am sure Spiky is not really as skinny as a toothpick. Also, hopefully, someone would say these are sentences that you would not use, say, in a formal report although it adds colour to frivolous Facebook post. Or in Harper Lee's narrative writing when she described Maycomb Country ("...there was nothing to buy and no money to buy it with..").

I will then get them to do a worksheet that's part of the resources available where kids circle the hyperbole(s) in given sentences.

If I have more time I would substitute this worksheet sentences or paragraphs from well-known literature like Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird.

I would then let the kids who are done earlier form little groups to have fun inventing their own hyperboles and laughing at them.

Don't forget laughter and smiles are important too.

I will round the lesson with an independent piece of writing - Write a paragraph on a topic of your choice to allow you to use hyperboles. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Doing "Corrections"

Doing correctons - reviewing one's work and correcting one's mistakes - is a common practice in Singapore schools. But do teachers often get students to do exactly those things? Are students simply taking doen the correct answers without reviewing their work and correcting their previous errors?

Many teachers I observed get students to put the correct response in (                 ) near the incorrect response. 

To inculcate independence, I may want to make it part of the students' habit of mind that each time we write (                 ), we will try our best to get the right answer, ourselves.

I definitely do not want students to develop the habit of waiting for the teacher to provide a correct answer.

At the end of this, say, 20-minute segment, I will put up copies of the correct answers at the back of the room for students to self-check and write down the correct answers, if theirs is still wrong.

That is done in the same amount of time as a teacher dishing out correct answers and providing ad-hoc, impromptu explanation.

This strategy provides them with a second chance to do the task and, at the same time, the correct answers still get copied down for future reference. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Idea of a Scaffold

According to Greenfield (1999),
"The scaffold, as it is known in building construction, has five characteristics: it provides a support; it functions as a tool; it extends the range of the worker; it allows a worker to accomplish a task not otherwise possible; and it is used to selectively aid the worker where needed. (p. 118)"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Three Big Ideas in PLC

This article in Educational Leadership (2004) by Richard DuFour is a useful introduction to PLC. In 2009, 51 schools in Singapore were on a pilot project for PLC schools. In 2010, the numbers doubled. By 2012, all Singapore schools should be PLC schools.

See the link on the right for the full article.

Briefly, the three big ideas in PLC are (1) to focus on student learning (2) to develop a culture of collaboration and (3) to focus on results.