Archive for July, 2014

Nine Characteristics of a Great Teacher

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Years ago, as a young, eager student, I would have told you that a great teacher was someone who provided classroom entertainment and gave very little homework. Needless to say, after many years of K-12 administrative experience and giving hundreds of teacher evaluations, my perspective has changed. My current position as a professor in higher education gives me the opportunity to share what I have learned with current and future school leaders, and allows for some lively discussions among my graduate students in terms of what it means to be a great teacher.

Teaching is hard work and some teachers never grow to be anything better than mediocre. They do the bare minimum required and very little more. The great teachers, however, work tirelessly to create a challenging, nurturing environment for their students. Great teaching seems to have less to do with our knowledge and skills than with our attitude toward our students, our subject, and our work. Although this list is certainly not all-inclusive, I have narrowed down the many characteristics of a great teacher to those I have found to be the most essential, regardless of the age of the learner:

1. A great teacher respects students. In a great teacher’s classroom, each person’s ideas and opinions are valued. Students feel safe to express their feelings and learn to respect and listen to others. This teacher creates a welcoming learning environment for all students.

by  Maria Orlando, EdD

The Art of Asking Questions

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

At one time or another, most of us have been disappointed by the caliber of the questions students ask in class, online, or in the office. Many of them are such mundane questions: “Will material from the book be on the exam?” “How long should the paper be?” “Can we use Google to find references?” “Would you repeat what you just said? I didn’t get it all down in my notes.” Rarely do they ask thoughtful questions that probe the content and stir the interest of the teacher and other students.

So, how do we get them to ask better questions? What if we start by asking them the kinds of questions we hope they will ask us? Here are some suggestions that might help us model what good questions are and demonstrate how instrumental they can be in promoting thinking, understanding, and learning.

Prepare questions — Too often we ask questions as they come to us. Allen and Tanner write in an excellent article on questioning, “Although many teachers carefully plan test questions used as final assessments, … much less time is invested in oral questions that are interwoven in our teaching.” (p. 63) How many questions of the kind that generate discussion and lead to other questions come to us as we are teaching? Would more of those thought-provoking questions come to us if we thought about questions as we prepare and contemplate the content for class?

by Maryellen Weimer, PhD

Curry for high blood pressure?

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Indian researchers have found that curry spices lower hypertension in rats.- AFP

Indian researchers have found that curry spices lower hypertension in rats.- AFP

Indian medical researchers say they have successfully tested a blend of curry spices that lower blood pressure in lab rats, raising hopes for a natural and affordable drug to treat the chronic disease.

Dr S. Thanikachalam, a cardiology expert who headed the research, said his team had tested a mixture of ginger, cardamom, cumin and pepper – common ingredients in Indian kitchens – along with white lotus petals and others on the rodents.

“We saw tremendous positive changes in rats induced with high blood pressure during our laboratory experiments,” said Dr Thanikachalam, who heads the department of cardiology at Sri Ramachandra University in the southern city of Chennai.

“The drug was very effective in reducing the blood pressure and bringing down oxidative stress in rats,” he told AFP.

The study said the spices were successful at reducing renovascular hypertension, a secondary form of high blood pressure caused by a narrowing of the arteries in the kidneys.

Indians are genetically predisposed to hypertension, with one in four people in cities suffering from the disorder, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Hypertension is mostly treated with modern pharmaceuticals, but high costs and the possibility of side effects deter many from taking daily medication.

The latest research is not the first time a curry ingredient has been associated with healthy benefits.

AFP Relaxnews.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/Lifestyle/Health/2014/07/06/Curry-for-high-blood-pressure/

Changing to a healthier lifestyle is great for your heart

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Adopt a healthy lifestyle and the heart forgives indiscretions.

Moderation in adulthood may reverse the risk of coronary artery disease, regardless of lifestyle 'sins' during youth. - AFP

Moderation in adulthood may reverse the risk of coronary artery disease, regardless of lifestyle ’sins’ during youth. – AFP

The 30s and 40s are the ages at which it’s time to lose that “eat right, exercise, die anyway” mentality, put down the cigarette, and get moving: Recent research says even the natural progression of coronary artery disease can be reversed, regardless of lifestyle sins of the past.

“It’s not too late,” says Bonnie Spring, lead investigator of the study and a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School Of Medicine in Chicago. “You’re not doomed if you’ve hit young adulthood and acquired some bad habits. You can still make a change and it will have a benefit for your heart.”

The study examined 5,000 adults who had participated in the “Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults” (CARDIA) study 20 years before, when they were between the ages of 18 and 30. Researchers from Northwestern Medicine assessed the lifestyle and coronary artery calcification levels of the former CARDIA participants, now between the ages of 38 and 50.

Healthy lifestyle was considered as not being obese or overweight, exercising regularly, not smoking and sticking to a healthy diet with a low alcohol intake. At the beginning of the CARDIA study, all five of these principles applied to less than 10% of participants. Twenty years later, 25% of them had added at least one of the aforementioned healthy behaviours.

Researchers concluded that each addition of a healthy behaviour was linked with reduced detectable coronary artery calcification and reduced thickness of the two innermost layers of arterial walls, both critical factors in evaluating cardiac health.

According to Spring, many healthcare professionals believe patients are unable to change their behaviour, and others believe the damage caused by smoking and other bad habits is irreversible. “Clearly, that’s incorrect,” says Spring. “Adulthood is not too late for healthy behaviour changes to help the heart.”

AFP Relaxnews.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/Lifestyle/Health/2014/07/20/Changing-to-a-healthier-lifestyle-is-great-for-your-heart/

Memory of a fish: Omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil is brain food

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

A team of hospital researchers in Rhode Island, United States, have concluded that regular doses of fish oil could reduce brain atrophy and help seniors maintain cognitive function.

The findings, published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, offer hope for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

“The field is currently engaged in numerous studies to find better treatments for people suffering with AD,” says principal investigator and pharmacist Dr Lori Daiello of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Centre at Rhode Island Hospital. “However, researching ways to prevent AD or slow cognitive decline in normal ageing is of utmost importance.”

In the study, a total of 819 older adults participated, undergoing MRI scans and neuropsychological testing every six months. Testing methods included the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog) and the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE).

Among the participants, 229 were cognitively normal, 397 had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, and 193 had been diagnosed with AD. For those who had not been diagnosed with dementia before joining the study, fish oil supplement use was associated with increased cognitive preservation, according to results of the aforementioned tests.

“Additionally, serial brain imaging conducted during this study showed that the participants with normal cognition who reported taking fish oil supplements demonstrated less brain shrinkage in key neurological areas, compared to those who did not use the supplements,” Dr Daiello said.

The omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil is well-known for its health benefits, most commonly associated with dermatological, articular and cardiovascular health. In terms of cognition, it turns out omega-3 supplementation could be good for people of all ages, according to another recent study that involved healthy young adults.

AFP Relaxnews.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/Lifestyle/Health/2014/07/27/Fish-oil-is-brain-food/

Three Active Learning Strategies That Push Students Beyond Memorization.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Those who teach in the health disciplines expect their students to retain and apply every iota of learned material. However, many students come to us having achieved academic success by memorizing the content, regurgitating that information onto an exam, and promptly forgetting a good portion of it. In health, as well as other disciplines where new material builds upon the material from the previous semesters, it is critical for students to retain what they learn throughout their coursework and as they begin their careers as a nurse, engineer, elementary teacher, etc.

So, how do we get students to retain this knowledge? Here are three active learning strategies for pushing students beyond simple memorization.

1. Case Studies and Simulations – Forsgren, Christensen, and Hedemalm (2014) found that case studies stimulate the student’s own thinking and reflection, both individually and in groups. Through reflection, the student gains a broader view, increased understanding, knowledge, and deeper learning. Case studies are a form of problem-based learning that encourage the student to think critically and apply “book knowledge” to everyday practice and problems that will occur in the workplace. A literature review reveals very little research on using case studies in fields other than health, law, and business. However, case studies could certainly be written for any field of study.

Many other methods of assisting with knowledge retention come from healthcare fields but can easily be adapted to other majors. Simulation—whether high-tech as in mannequins or low-tech as in role play—is a good method to help the student apply knowledge to real world scenarios.

by : Sydney Fulbright, PhD.

Read more @: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/three-active-learning-strategies-push-students-beyond-memorization/#sthash.6mMF7mZf.dpuf

The 12 Stages of Life

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

The Twelve Stages of the Human Life Cycle

Which stage of life is the most important?   Some might claim that infancy is the key stage, when a baby’s brain is wide open to new experiences that will influence all the rest of its later life. Others might argue that it’s adolescence or young adulthood, when physical health is at its peak.  Many cultures around the world value late adulthood more than any other, arguing that it is at this stage that the human being has finally acquired the wisdom necessary to guide others.  Who is right?  The truth of the matter is that every stage of life is equally significant and necessary for the welfare of humanity.  In my book The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life, I’ve written that each stage of life has its own unique “gift” to contribute to the world.  We need to value each one of these gifts if we are to truly support the deepest needs of human life.  Here are what I call the twelve gifts of the human life cycle:

  1. Prebirth:  Potential – The child who has not yet been born could become anything – a Michaelangelo, a Shakespeare, a Martin Luther King – and thus holds for all of humanity the principle of what we all may yet become in our lives.
  2. Birth:  Hope – When a child is born, it instills in its parents and other caregivers a sense of optimism; a sense that this new life may bring something new and special into the world.  Hence, the newborn represents the sense of hope that we all nourish inside of ourselves to make the world a better place.
  3. Infancy (Ages 0-3):   Vitality – The infant is a vibrant and seemingly unlimited source of energy.  Babies thus represent the inner dynamo of humanity, ever fueling the fires of the human life cycle with new channels of psychic power.
  4. Early Childhood (Ages 3-6):  Playfulness – When young children play, they recreate the world anew.  They take what is and combine it with the what is possible to fashion events that have never been seen before in the history of the world.  As such, they embody the principle of innovation and transformation that underlies every single creative act that has occurred in the course of civilization.
  5. Middle Childhood (Ages 6-8):  Imagination – In middle childhoood, the sense of an inner subjective self develops for the first time, and this self is alive with images taken in from the outer world, and brought up from the depths of the unconscious.  This imagination serves as a source of creative inspiration in later life for artists, writers, scientists, and anyone else who finds their days and nights enriched for having nurtured a deep inner life.
  6. Late Childhood (Ages 9-11):  Ingenuity – Older children have acquired a wide range of social and technical skills that enable them to come up with marvelous strategies and inventive solutions for dealing with the increasing pressures that society places on them.  This principle of ingenuity lives on in that part of ourselves that ever seeks new ways to solve practical problems and cope with everyday responsibilities.
  7. Adolescence (Ages 12-20):  Passion -  The biological event of puberty unleashes a powerful set of changes in the adolescent body that reflect themselves in a teenager’s sexual, emotional, cultural, and/or spiritual passion.  Adolescence passion thus represents a significant touchstone for anyone who is seeking to reconnect with their deepest inner zeal for life.
  8. Early Adulthood (Ages 20-35):  Enterprise –  It takes enterprise for young adults to accomplish their many responsibilities, including finding a home and mate, establishing a family or circle of friends, and/or getting a good job.  This principle of enterprise thus serves us at any stage of life when we need to go out into the world and make our mark.

Adapted from Thomas Armstrong,

Read more @ http://institute4learning.com/stages_of_life.php

Learning on the Edge: Classroom Activities to Promote Deep Learning.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

The explosion of educational technologies in the past decade or so has led everyone to wonder whether the landscape of higher education teaching and learning will be razed and reconstructed in some new formation. But whatever changes might occur to the learning environments we construct for our students, the fundamental principles according to which human beings learn complex new skills and information will not likely undergo a massive transformation anytime soon. Fortunately, we seem to be in the midst of a flowering of new research and ideas from the learning sciences that can help ensure that whatever type of approach we take to the classroom—from traditional lecture to flipped classes—can help maximize student learning in our courses.

One fascinating implication of this growing body of research for me has been a greater awareness of the edges of a traditional class. Environmental biologists have dubbed landscapes that sit on the edge of two different ecosystems (such as a forest and a grasslands environment) an ecotone. These spaces are known for having rich biological diversity, because they can support creatures from both sides of the ecotone, and encourage mixing between the bordering zones. The especially rich nature of the ecotone has also become known as the “edge effect.”

The ecotone of a traditional college class would be the first and last few minutes of the class session, when students are walking in the door from their busy lives outside of the classroom—coming from meals with friends, from exercise or sports activities, from socializing either in person or through their phones—and entering this more formal learning space. Too often these first and last minutes of class are frittered away with administrative details, hurried reminders about due dates or admonitions about upcoming assignments. But what if we saw those ecotones of the classroom exactly as we saw them in the natural world—as especially rich and fertile periods, ones in which we can begin and end the process of promoting deep learning for our students?

by : James M. Lang, PhD

Read more @: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/learning-edge-classroom-activities-promoting-deep-learning/#sthash.HjPAAj6F.dpuf

Formative Assessment: The Secret Sauce of Blended Success.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

A few weeks ago, a colleague emailed me about some trouble she was having with her first attempt at blended instruction. She had created some videos to pre-teach a concept, incorporated some active learning strategies into her face-to-face class to build on the video, and assigned an online quiz so she could assess what the students had learned. After grading the quizzes, however, she found that many of the students struggled with the concept. “Maybe,” she wondered, “blended instruction won’t work with my content area.”

When I met with the colleague, it was clear from our conversation that she hoped a blended approach would allow her to incorporate more active learning strategies into her face-to-face class. She wanted to break away from a primarily lecture-driven environment and provide students with more opportunities for collaboration and interaction. When we discussed her blended lesson, however, she focused mostly on what she wanted the students to learn during the different phases of the lesson. “What,” I asked “were YOU learning from your students during the different phases of the lesson?” She seemed puzzled by the question, which provided a great entryway for discussing how formative assessment can contribute to blended success.

Although most people probably associate the term “assessment” with quizzes and exams, in reality these high-stakes activities represent a small subset of assessment opportunities. Educationally, assessments can be broken into two larger categories: summative and formative. Most of our experience with assessment usually comes in the form of summative assessment. We have our students take exams or write papers at the end of a chapter. Summative assessments are valuable because they let us know whether our students have successfully learned what we wanted them to learn. Summative assessments, however, are limited in that they provide little information to guide teaching because they usually serve as the endpoint of some instruction.

by Oliver Dreon, PhD

Read more @: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/educational-assessment/formative-assessment-secret-sauce-blended-success/#sthash.HOWGX6Y5.dpuf

PENTAKSIRAN BERASASKAN SEKOLAH / TINGKATAN 3 / PT3

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: From this year, Form Three students would be tested via Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 (PT3 or Form 3 Assessment) which replaces the Penilaian Menengah Rendah.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said PT3 would be held at the school level.

“This means there is no centralised examination for Form Three students as in previous years,” he told reporters when announcing the changes made to the school-based assessment (PBS) after a meeting with teaching unions.

The PMR, which was introduced in 1993 to replace the Sijil Rendah Pelajaran examination, was held for the last time in 2013. The PBS system was introduced in primary schools, starting with Year One pupils in 2011 and in secondary schools with Form One students in 2012.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said students would be assessed via written and oral tests for Bahasa Melayu and English.

Science, Mathematics, Islamic Studies, Living Skills, Arabic, Chinese, Tamil, Iban and Kadazanusun would be assessed via a written test while History and Geography would be assessed via assignments, practical tests, projects, field study and case studies. The written tests would be held in October while History and Geography would be assessed throughout the year.

Muhyiddin stressed that schools would administer, assess and score the assessments based on standardised guidelines prepared by the Educa­tion Ministry’s Examinations Syndicate.

“The Examinations Syndicate will prepare questions with different levels of difficulty from easy, moderate to hard and place them in a question bank. Schools can then choose these questions and use them when they are assessing the students via the written tests,” he said.

He said the syndicate would monitor schools to ensure they chose the questions which reflected the levels of difficulty and that no school chose questions that were all considered easy.

Unlike in previous years when the ministry would announce the results of the PMR in November, Muhyiddin said it was up to the individual schools to decide when to release the results of the PT3.

He said the Examinations Syndi­cate and a team of outside assessors would moderate and verify the results.

“This is to ensure there is consistency among marks given while verification is to ensure students get the marks they deserve,” he said.

Muhyiddin said students and their parents could approach the schools to see their performance in the PT3 and to obtain a results slip, which would be used for entry to Form Four as well as for applications into fully residential schools, religious secondary schools, Mara Junior Science College, technical secondary schools and vocational colleges.

by Andrew Choo.

Read more @ http://www.andrewchoo.edu.my/