"We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities." Josh Waitzkin
Teaching and Learning have a dialectical relationship. To optimize this relationship, I have made sure that all our activities respond to the students' needs - based on what I evaluated from your work! We shall focus on the following Strategies! 1. Think-Group-Share Think first as an individual, then as a group, before sharing it with the class! This gives time for the ownership of ideas, before engaging in a group evaluation, and then finally a confident sharing.
We have done this rather frequently in class for Chemistry and English. We have attempted this using ICT (Google Doc), but it failed due to the unreliable connection to the Internet in the classroom. Other than using mini Whiteboards to facilitate this activity, we can also explore the use of a verbal sharing instead. This is especially useful in developing Speaking Skills.
This strategy may be used to target the following thinking skills: Analytic, Applying or Evaluating. The purpose of this strategy is to let students develop ideas and compare the development of ideas through individual, pair and group. This strategy addresses students' interest in group activities, and their enthusiasm with the mini Whiteboard.
2. Home Sharing, Expert Sharing! This is a high level activity that requires a seamless transition of the different groups in coming together to produce an outstanding sharing. In the following example, I shall use Group 1 to 4 as an example.
In the class, we have 4 columns: Jordan's, Nicholas', Jace's and Qian Ying's. Each column will be asked to read a text as individuals. Each text is denoted by a color, so we have 4 texts. Then, in their own groups, they are to discuss the text. This is the Home Sharing. After the discussion, they are to label each person in the group as A, B, C or D. This is what we have right now:
After 15 minutes of discussion, the entire row will move as the students congregate according to the alphabets. This is shown in the following diagram. These Alphabet Groups are known as Expert Groups. Because each person in these groups is an expert at their own text, they are now to discuss the various texts, and lead their own sharing.
We have attempted this activity in the Computer Laboratory for the topic on Isotopes. However, it was incomplete due to insufficient time - it took a while to get to the right computer lab, and some time was used for a survey.
We attempted this during English on the 27th of March for the French Renaissance! This is where Snow White, the Queen, the huntsman and the Prince are redefined based on their characters. Did you enjoy it?
This strategy targets the Analytic and Evaluating thinking skills. The purpose of this strategy is to achieve greater individual participation by letting each student in a group be in-charge of a text.
3. Puzzle! For English, an entire essay is deconstructed into sentences, and each student receives a sentence. Each supporting paragraph is color-coded, and students are given time to group themselves according to the paragraph type and arrange the sentences in order. The purpose of this activity is to see students' application of the TS-E-FS framework for supporting paragraphs, as well as the Hook-E-Direction framework for Introduction, and Summary-E-Opinion framework for Conclusion. In addition, it also tests students' understanding of cohesive devices at work in a text. Pictures of the sentence arrangements were taken, and the group sharing will be done online when T2 starts!
A variation of this for Ionic Bonding is done through a Criss Cross, where students have to identify the key words responding to the questions, and spell the words accurately. This is available on the post dated 19th March!
This strategy targets the Applying thinking skill. This activity is chosen by the majority of the students, who voted for more puzzles in learning.
4. French Ball in the Renaissance! (performed on 27/03/2014) Bonjour, Monsieur et Mademoiselle! Welcome to the Renaissance, the enlightenment period of Philosophy! This is where assumptions would be dispelled, and beliefs, re-examined!
In this activity, we will use a fairy tale that the class likes. Each group will receive a contradictory interpretation of the story. The group must espouse the interpretation and vehemently defend it. After that, the groups will be asked to mix and mingle, as that of a French Ball. Each student must meet and discuss the statement with people from other groups, without showing them the statements explicitly. They must discuss the validity of the statements and comment on why the different interpretations exist.
A hint to what we will be getting into: If the story is Snow White and the 7 Dwarves, I can give a statement like "The Princess should never marry the Prince, because he is a pervert. He kisses a dead woman in the middle of the forest." The group that receives this statement will have to look at other evidence for why the Princess should never marry the Prince, before defending their stance when questioned by the other groups.
Loud bells rang in the distance, as chariots of the rich trotted on the brick streets. Gentlemen, put on your finest tuxedo, and Ladies, be in your grandest gowns. Take a glass of fruit punch, and join the masquerade. The floor is where the duel of words happens.
This activity targets the Analytic and Evaluating thinking skill. It is in response to the students' chance use of evaluation skills, as seen in lessons. By giving them a scaffolded approach to exercise the skills on a famous story, I hope to build their familiarity with such thinking skills, which are tested for at the GCE 'O' Levels for English Language.
5. UNO SVA! (Coming soon to a classroom near you) "Oh, he puts down a card with a singular noun, so I can either put a singular noun card or a singular verb card!"
In this spin-off of UNO, groups of students will try to empty their deck by using SVA for the nouns and verbs! If you ever ran out of singular nouns and verbs in your deck, just use your Wild Card (Determiners) to start a round of plural nouns and verbs! In this version, the Determiners come in both plural and singular forms.
Challenge someone if you don't think he or she did it right - if he is wrong, he will have to take a penalty of 4 cards! If you are wrong, then you have to take the penalty of 2 cards!
There are 100 nouns, 16 x 2 SG/ PL Verbs, 20 Determiners and 8 Draw+3 cards. The emphasis on Nouns is based on the analysis of your weaknesses in Grammar, where often the SVA fails due to the mistake in identifying singular and plural nouns.
This activity may be used to target the Analytic or the Applying thinking skill.