Archive for July, 2010

Selecting a delivery strategy.

Saturday, July 31st, 2010
1.  Introduction
The term “delivery strategy” is overused and often misunderstood. Books have been written about it and often equate it to the term “method.” Most undergraduate teaching-training programs even require a course in methods. For the purpose of this article, choosing a delivery strategy will be presented as a choice among the lecture, demonstrations, or discussion. The common nature of these choices do not answer the question How?, but focus on the question, Why ? A series of questions is presented to help you make a decision on which delivery method to use.
2.  Choosing a Lecture
The purpose of a lecture is to clarify information to a large group in a short period of time. It is not to convey information! Lectures require a great deal of preparation time and need to be supported by various audio-visuals. The lecture is a great opportunity for instructors to feed their egos! It is instructor-centered. Handouts, programmed instruction, information handouts, modules, student presentations, guest speakers, films, film strips, and reading assignments are adaptations of lectures.The following questions should assist you in determining the appropriateness of a lecture.

  1. What knowledge, skill, or attitude needs to be learned?
  2. How many students need the content?
  3. Do all or most of the students need the content now?
  4. How much preparation time is available?
  5. Are you in command of your nonverbal cues?
  6. Can you develop interest in the lecture?
  7. Are there appropriate audio-visual support systems?
  8. Would a handout work just as well?
  9. Can you devise means to ensure that more than one sense is used by students?
  10. Are there natural divisions that equate to 20 minutes or less?
  11. Would a videotape work just as well?
  12. Do your impromptu lectures last 5 minutes or less?
  13. Could you provide an outline of important parts of the lecture?
  14. What portion of your teaching time do you spend lecturing?
  15. Would a text assignment work just as well?
  16. Do you summarize regularly in the lecture?
  17. Do you pose questions in your lectures?
  18. Have you ever listened to or watched one of your lectures?
3.  Choosing a Demonstration
The purpose of the demonstration is to transmit the big picture to a relatively small group of students in a short period of time. Demonstrations usually require a lot of preparation time and must be supported with various audio-visuals. Demonstrations are particularly useful in teaching skills and are more teacher-centered than student-centered. There are several variations of demonstrations. Projects, peer tutoring, research papers, practice, field trips, on-the-job training, simulated experiences, and videotapes are adaptations of demonstrations. The following questions should assist you in determining the appropriateness of a demonstration:

  1. Does the learner need to see the process?
  2. How many students need the content?
  3. How many students need the content now?
  4. How much preparation time is available?
  5. Can you tell and show the content?
  6. Can you appeal to other senses?
  7. Do you want the students to imitate you?
  8. Is there a-v support available?
  9. Will the demonstration last more that 20 minutes?
  10. Could you use a videotape just as well?
  11. Can you ask questions during the demonstration?
  12. Can the students take notes?
  13. Will there be practice time for the students?
  14. Can the student easily identify the steps?
  15. Will you permit the students to ask questions?
  16. Is there only one right way?
  17. Will you support the demonstration with handouts?
  18. Have you ever listened to or watched one of your demonstrations?
4.  Choosing a Discussion
The purpose of a discussion is to solicit and involve the student in content transmittal. Discussions are limited to small groups and require considerable time. The discussion method does not require much audio-visual support. This method is particularly useful in an affective area. It promotes understanding and clarification of concepts, ideas, and feelings. There are numerous variations, and the discussion method can vary from teacher-centered to student-centered. Role playing, debate, panel discussion, reviews, supervised study, brainstorming, buzz groups, idea incubation, tests, show-and-tell, worksheets, conferences, and interviews are examples. The following questions should assist you in determining the appropriateness of a discussion:

  1. Do you need active involvement from the student?
  2. How many students need to be involved?
  3. Must you hear everything being said?
  4. How much time is available?
  5. Is divergent thinking a desirable end?
  6. Could you just as well tell them?
  7. Can there be more than one right answer?
  8. Is there time to clarify differences?
  9. How much control do you need?
  10. Can you accept the students’ views?
  11. Can interest be aroused and maintained?
  12. Is there time to draw conclusions?
  13. Is there time to follow up?
  14. What needs to be tested?
  15. Is two-way communication necessary?
  16. Are checks and balances available to prevent certain students from dominating?
  17. Are there means to keep on the topic?
  18. Have you ever listened to or watched yourself in a discussion?

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Fashion and style – are they the same?

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

FASHION and style are such subjective issues. Between the two there is a clear difference. Fashion is seasonal and subject to the whims and moods of the current time, generation and thinking. Therefore, it’s easy to pin-point and reference an outfit or look to a certain time frame.

Style however, rests solely on an person’s taste and is individualistic enough to mark the arbiter of it as something wholly personal.

The only thing that makes fashion and style similar is that both can be copied, (rather badly) but the difference, as Yves Saint Laurent said in the oft-mentioned quote, is that “fashions fade, style is eternal”.

A lot of people think they know what fashion is all about. In fact, everyone thinks they know what is fashion to the point that the current fashion is that anyone can be a designer, be it of clothes, shoes, bags or accessories.

What is so difficult about fashion? You look at what the current trends are, what people would most likely want to wear or buy, get a familiar face like whoever the darling of the masses is to wear or carry it, and there you go, you’re in fashion.

Now, if only it were that simple, everyone be the next big thing just like that.

No one wants to talk or think about the reality of the fashion industry – creativity, hard work, passion and commitment. Selling fashion on the Internet is something anyone can do, opening a boutique and stocking it with cheap and fast fashion from our neighbouring countries is child’s play.

Getting your best friend, the style icon to wear it and be photographed is no big deal, especially when you’re friends with people who are in the industry. But what does it take really to make it in the world of fashion? I love this quote from Karl Lagerfeld: “Ask yourself, are you sure this world is for you? And are you sure you are the right person to survive this world – the fashion world, a world with no rules, no laws?” – it puts everything in perspective.

by Dzireena Mahadzir.

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Better to educate kids on risks of premarital sex

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

I refer to the article “No sex please, we’re students” (The Star, July 29) on abstinence from sex before marriage to be introduced in schools.

A similar programme was introduced in the US and students were encouraged to submit written pledges to abstain from sex until their marriage.

But the programme failed and, despite the pledge, a higher number of pregnancies was recorded. The students were not prepared and they let their guard down. The fact is that most pregnancies were not planned; they happened because the students failed to take precautions.

Telling students to abstain from sex these days is like telling them not to smoke. Those of us in the front line have a tough time telling girls and boys not to get close. But, alas, our advice falls on deaf ears. Sometimes they think they are in love and give in easily without taking precautions.

Adults are equally vulnerable, but what really keeps us away from trouble is the family. For some, the thought of disappointing their parents deters them from doing anything wrong.

Next is the spiritual development. Children need to be taught the fear of God.

by James Nayagam,

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Students bring ‘green’ message home

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

PENAMPANG: Students from SM St Michael here have brought their environmental awareness out from school and spread it to family members.

For Kimberly Perera, 14, who is in form two, the campaign to reduce the use of plastic bags is one of the main priorities for her family, especially when going out to the market or grocery shops.

“My family and I will use recycled bags each time we go out to shop or buy things from groceries because we want to make the campaign a success.

“I have learnt many things about pollution caused by plastics and we, the students are trying to spread awareness to everyone, including villagers near the school,” she said.

According to science and physics teacher Jennifer Asing who is involved in the school’s environmental activities, students of SM St Michael are also collecting rubbish from houses near the school every morning.

“Apart from collecting rubbish, we also have students from our school’s Kelab Pencinta Alam and Kelab Kebajikan cleaning the rivers of Putaton and Kibambangan once a month.

“We started the program to clean the rivers in April as one of the environmental activities to educate students and the people around both rivers,” she said at the launching ceremony of  the No Plastic Bags campaign at the school yesterday.

Jennifer said the school welcomed any environmental activity that would better educate the younger generation.

by Mariah Doksil.

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Common Teaching Methods.

Friday, July 30th, 2010
1.  Lecture
– presents factual material in direct, logical manner
– contains experience which inspires
– stimulates thinking to open discussion
– useful for large groups
– experts are not always good teachers
– audience is passive
– learning is difficult to gauge
– communication in one way
– needs clear introduction and summary
– needs time and content limit to be effective
– should include examples, anecdotes
2.  Lecture With Discussion
– involves audience at least after the lecture
– audience can question, clarify & challenge
– time may limit discussion period
– quality is limited to quality of questions and discussion
– requires that questions be prepared prior to discussion
3.  Panel of Experts
– allows experts to present different opinions
– can provoke better discussion than a one person discussion
– frequent change of speaker keeps attention from lagging
– experts may not be good speakers
– personalities may overshadow content
– subject may not be in logical order
– facilitator coordinates focus of panel, introduces and summarizes
– briefs panel
4.  Brainstorming
– listening exercise that allows creative thinking for new ideas
– encourages full participation because all ideas equally recorded
– draws on group’s knowledge and experience
– spirit of congeniality is created
– one idea can spark off other other ideas
– can be unfocused
– needs to be limited to 5 – 7 minutes
– people may have difficulty getting away from known reality
– if not facilitated well, criticism and evaluation may occur
– facilitator selects issue
– must have some ideas if group needs to be stimulated
5.  Videotapes
– entertaining way of teaching content and raising issues
– keep group’s attention
– looks professional
– stimulates discussion
– can raise too many issues to have a focused discussion
– discussion may not have full participation
– only as effective as following discussion
– need to set up equipment
– effective only if facilitator prepares questions to discuss after the show
6.  Class Discussion
– pools ideas and experiences from group
– effective after a presentation, film or experience that needs to be analyzed
– allows everyone to participate in an active process
– not practical with more that 20 people
– few people can dominate
– others may not participate
– is time consuming
– can get off the track
– requires careful planning by facilitator to guide discussion
– requires question outline
7.  Small Group Discussion
– allows participation of everyone
– people often more comfortable in small groups
– can reach group consensus
– needs careful thought as to purpose of group
– groups may get side tracked
– needs to prepare specific tasks or questions for group to answer
8.  Case Studies

– develops analytic and problem solving skills
– allows for exploration of solutions for complex issues
– allows student to apply new knowledge and skills
– people may not see relevance to own situation
– insufficient information can lead to inappropriate results
– case must be clearly defined in some cases
– case study must be prepared
9.  Role Playing
– introduces problem situation dramatically
– provides opportunity for people to assume roles of others and thus appreciate another point of view
– allows for exploration of solutions
– provides opportunity to practice skills
– people may be too self-conscious
– not appropriate for large groups
– people may feel threatened
– trainer has to define problem situation and roles clearly
– trainer must give very clear instructions
10.  Report-Back Sessions
– allows for large group discussion of role plays, case studies, and small group exercise
– gives people a chance to reflect on experience
– each group takes responsibility for its operation
– can be repetitive if each small group says the same thing
– trainer has to prepare questions for groups to discuss
11.  Worksheets/Surveys
– allows people to thing for themselves without being influences by others
– individual thoughts can then be shared in large group
– can be used only for short period of time
– facilitator has to prepare handouts
12.  Index Card Exercise
– opportunity to explore difficult and complex issues
– people may not do exercise
– facilitator must prepare questions
13.  Guest Speaker
– personalizes topic
– breaks down audience’s stereotypes
– may not be a good speaker
– contact speakers and coordinate
– introduce speaker appropriately
14.  Values Clarification Exercise
– opportunity to explore values and beliefs
– allows people to discuss values in a safe environment
– gives structure to discussion
– people may not be honest
– people may be too self-conscious
– facilitator must carefully prepare exercise
– must give clear instructions
– facilitator must prepare discussion questions
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Teachers in politics

Friday, July 30th, 2010

THE move to allow graduate teachers to participate in politics has been met with a mixed response. As schools are for education, not for politics, and it would be unprofessional and unethical for those at the chalkface to use the schoolyard as a political barnstorm, the understandable concern is that these teachers cum politicians would not be able to leave their political hats at the school gate and behave as professionals in the classroom. Clearly, it’s legitimate to expect teachers not to be partisan or prejudiced, racist or sexist, unfair or unjust.

As a general rule, civil servants must refrain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of their duties or which could give rise to the impression of bias in the eyes of the public. Indeed, in line with the ethos of political neutrality, regardless of changes in the legislative branch of government, the public rightly expects those working in the civil branches of government to offer objective advice to the elected leaders and conscientiously implement their policies.

However, this is an argument for strictly excluding the bureaucratic branch from partisan political activities rather than a blanket ban on the entire body of those employed in the civil service. Certainly, the statutory intent of Regulation 21 of the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993 was to ensure political impartiality and prevent divided loyalties and prejudiced service. However, the principle seems to have been to impose political restrictions on those in the higher levels of the hierarchy who could influence policy and affect implementation but to exempt those in the clerical grades and support staff who carry out the routine work as directed by the higher-level administrators.

NST Editorial.

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Helping Students Understand What They Read

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Many college students struggle with their reading assignments. As a teacher educator with expertise in reading development and disability, I find it useful to model effective reading strategies and provide immediate feedback on those strategies frequently used by students. One versatile method I use with undergraduates involves examination of what they underline (or highlight). Throughout the semester, I ask students to refer to their assigned readings and share with the class passages they underlined and reasons for their selection. In this way, the types of thinking that accompanies purposeful, active reading become more apparent.

Students underline passages in the reading for a variety of reasons. They may underline based on prior knowledge. In these cases, my feedback explicitly encourages them to make these connections and prompts them to draw upon what they know as they read in all their classes. Other times, students underline what they think is an important point. I see this as an opportunity to build content knowledge. My feedback often takes the form of questions and aims to help them examine concepts and relationships expressed in the text in greater depth or from a different perspective.

When students highlight too much
Sometimes students underline what they don’t understand. They might highlight secondary points or, more typically, they highlight too much, leaving few sentences untouched. On these occasions, I try to demonstrate how I approach the text. I think aloud as I read and make my thinking visible as I switch back and forth from actually reading phrases, sentences, and passages to interpretation. I make predictions and confirm or revise them as I read on. I paraphrase and evaluate my own ability to infer the author’s points. In this way, students observe a model of active meaning construction.

Through my demonstrations and feedback, students learn to become more purposeful and selective about what they underline. They become more aware of their level of understanding, knowing when to reread and seek clarification.

I use material from the text selectively but consistently, and the approaches I demonstrate evolve across the course. Passages selected for class examination relate to essential content. Thus, reading demonstrations and discussions are targeted and kept short, usually lasting less than 20 minutes. At the beginning of the semester, an examination of text underlines is used as a review; later it is a previewing strategy before a reading assignment is completed. After a few demonstrations, I ask students to work with a peer and compare passage underlines, noting what was of interest, of importance, or would benefit from clarification. The approach includes other reading comprehension strategies, such as self-questioning. Following instructor modeling, students write questions that they have about the text in the margins or on sticky notes. Through repeated practice, students become more independent and confident readers.

By semester’s end, there are fewer students who fail to bring the assigned reading material to class and even fewer with clean texts, free of markings and notes. Students quickly learn that assigned readings are an integral part of class and become more accountable for their own learning.

By Dr. Lydia Conca, a professor at Saint Joseph College, CT.

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Ways to prevent First – Year Burnout.

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Here are my top ten ways to prevent first year teacher burnout. All of these ways have made my first year a success so far. By no means am I perfect, but I am learning each day and I am loving every minute of it!

  1. Simplify your life! You will need lots of extra time outside of school.
  2. Continue your hobbies or interests outside of school for leisure time.
  3. Stay positive and stay around positive people. Negative feeds negative.
  4. Time management. Always use your time wisely. It is amazing what you can accomplish in a 30 minute break!
  5. Set priorities. Concentrate on what needs to be done for the day. Work on  what comes next later. Don’t try to do everything at once and don’t expect to be perfect just yet.
  6. Self – evaluate! Reflect! Do not be overwhelmed by “bad days.” Reward yourself for the “good” things you did each day and learn the “mistakes”.
  7. Organize! Have a specific place for everything!
  8. Ask lots of questions! You never know until you  ask!
  9. Reach out for support both in and out of school!
  10. Get plenty of rest, exercise, and eat healthy. Your students need you each and every day!

Teaching has been the most rewarding thing in my life! Knowing that I am impacting someone else’s life makes all of the time and money I spend worth it!.

by Tara Hollomon

Cedar Road Elementary, Chesapeake.

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Good Teaching: The top ten requirements.

Thursday, July 29th, 2010
  1. Good teaching is as much about passion as it is about reason. It’s about not only motivating students to learn, but teaching them how to learn, and doing so in a manner that is relevant, meaningful, and memorable. It’s about caring for your craft, having a passion for it, and conveying that passion to everyone, most importantly to your students.
  2. Good teaching is about substance and treating students as consumers of knowledge. It’s about doing your best to keep on top of your field, reading sources, inside and outside of your areas of expertise, and being at the leading edge as often as possible. But knowledge is not confined to scholarly journals.
  3. Good teaching is also about bridging the gap between theory and practice. It’s about leaving the ivory tower and immersing oneself in the field, talking to, consulting with, and assisting practitioners, and liaisoning with their communities.Good teaching is about listening, questioning, being responsive, and remembering that each student and class is different. It’s about eliciting responses and developing the oral communication skills of the quiet students. It’s about pushing students to excel; at the same time, it’s about being human, respecting others, and being professional at all times.
  4. Good teaching is about not always having a fixed agenda and being rigid, but being flexible, fluid, experimenting, and having the confidence to react and adjust to changing circumstances. It’s about getting only 10 percent of what you wanted to do in a class done and still feeling good. It’s about deviating from the course syllabus or lecture schedule easily when there is more and better learning elsewhere. Good teaching is about the creative balance between being an authoritarian dictator on the one hand and a pushover on the other.
  5. Good teaching is also about style. Should good teaching be entertaining? You bet! Does this mean that it lacks in substance? Not a chance! Effective teaching is not about being locked with both hands glued to a podium or having your eyes fixated on a slide projector while you drone on. Good teachers work the room and every student in it. They realize that they are the conductors and the class is the orchestra. All students play different instruments and at varying proficiencies.
  6. This is very important — good teaching is about humor. It’s about being self-deprecating and not taking yourself too seriously. It’s often about making innocuous jokes, mostly at your own expense, so that the ice breaks and students learn in a more relaxed atmosphere where you, like them, are human with your own share of faults and shortcomings.
  7. Good teaching is about caring, nurturing, and developing minds and talents. It’s about devoting time, often invisible, to every student. It’s also about the thankless hours of grading, designing or redesigning courses, and preparing materials to still further enhance instruction.
  8. Good teaching is supported by strong and visionary leadership, and very tangible institutional support — resources, personnel, and funds. Good teaching is continually reinforced by an overarching vision that transcends the entire organization — from full professors to part-time instructors — and is reflected in what is said, but more importantly by what is done.
  9. Good teaching is about mentoring between senior and junior faculty, teamwork, and being recognized and promoted by one’s peers. Effective teaching should also be rewarded, and poor teaching needs to be remediated through training and development programs.
  10. At the end of the day, good teaching is about having fun, experiencing pleasure and intrinsic rewards ... like locking eyes with a student in the back row and seeing the synapses and neurons connecting, thoughts being formed, the person becoming better, and a smile cracking across a face as learning all of a sudden happens. Good teachers practice their craft not for the money or because they have to, but because they truly enjoy it and because they want to. Good teachers couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

by Richard Leblanc,

York University, Ontario.

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Malaysia to tie up with S. Korea in education.

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

MALAYSIA hopes to cooperate more with South Korea in education and an agreement on technical assistance in the field is on the cards.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said South Korean Prime Minister Chung Un-Chan, whom he met yesterday, had reacted positively to a Malaysian proposal for such an agreement.

“We are to sign a significant memorandum of understanding on education, hopefully before the official visit of South Korean president (Lee Myung-bak) later this year,” he said at the end of his working visit here. Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, stressed it was important for Malaysia to learn from successful South Korean education initiatives such as its National Education Information System (NEIS).

NEIS is an integrated computer system where information on students are stored and could be accessed and utilised through the Internet by the teachers, parents and education authorities.

All schools in South Korea have been connected to the Net since 10 years ago, while almost all households have the same access. Muhyiddin said the pending agreement on cooperation between the education authorities of the two countries would also include matters such as co-curriculum, teachers’ training, vocational education, sports and the use of information and communication technology in education.

He said Chung had indicated that South Korea had always been keen to enhance its bilateral ties with Malaysia and promote interaction between the leaders, peoples and businesses of both countries.

Earlier, during his visit to South Korean conglomerate Samsung Group at Samsung City near here, Muhyiddin said Kuala Lumpur would continue to make it easier for foreigners to plan and operate their investments in Malaysia by cutting red tape and coordinating investment administration between the federal and state governments. He said he told the Samsung management that the government was very supportive and appreciative of its investments in Malaysia.

“We will do our best to make it easier for Samsung to operate in our country and expand its investments.”

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