Friday, March 16, 2012

First Toa Payoh Secondary and Anglo Chinese Junior College

In a lesson planning meetings, the following is often discussed:

(a) Clarification fo the Research Theme
(b) The Teaching Task(s) and The Approach to be Used in Research Lesson
(c) The Anticipated Responses & Teacher Actions Related to Students' Responses
(d) Preparing Lesson Study Team Members for the research lessons

This entry discusses the first point - clarification of research theme.

During one of the earlier lesson planning meeting, lesson study team should talk more about the research theme.

In the case of FTPS, the team has identified developing resilience as its research theme. The facilitator asked the theme what they hope to see in their students and what are the existing difficulties they often have.

Two things surfaced - students often do not have the confidence to handle complex tasks. They sometime give up even before trying. Thus, being resilient means to develop the confidence to give an apparently complex task a go. This means students must be made to realize that they can succeed at a task and they must be given strategies to do so.

The other thing is that team members wanted students to be able to recover from mistakes and have alternate methods to handle complex tasks. This is an important trait as students often make mistakes or reach roadblocks when they attempt complex tasks. This is the other facet of being resilient that was discussed.

Thus, the FTPS mathematics lesson study team wanted to study how to develop two resilient traits - being confident when faced with a complex task and being able to recover from obstacles in handling complex tasks.

In the case of ACJC physics team, they started off wanting to do a lesson study on a strategy - whiteboarding. The school also has independent learning as its goals for the various PLCs.

The facilitation process allows the team to bring their goal to a higher level.

From a level one goal to study a strategy (in this case, whiteboarding), the process allowed the team to move to level two goal i.e. how to help students visualize concepts in circular motion (to move in a circular path, a particle must experience a resultant force) in a real physical situation. Eventually their research theme became, to help students use critical, self questioning to connect abstract concepts with events / phenomena in the real world. We referred to this during the meeting as the third level goal. The first level goal is tied to a strategy. The second level goal is still tied to a topic. The third level goal could be use in any topic or any subject.

I spent a enriching day with both teams. In the case of FTPS, the other subject teams were present as well. In the case of ACJC, a lead teacher in economics joined our discussing. I had to dig my A-Level Physics out of the woods to facilitate the discussion. Although the FTPS team deals with a subject I am familiar with (mathematics), the questions raised by the science teams and mother tongue languages helped me think more about subjects that I do not usually deal with.

I will write an entry on teaching of vocabulary in the learning of mother tongue languages soon.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kong Hwa School Lesson Study on Mathematics

Kong Hwa School Primary Three Professional Learning Team used their one hour time-tabled time (TTT) to discuss the anchor tasks in their lesson plan.

The anchor tasks decided at today's meeting is:
Tom had some sweets. Jerry had 5 more sweets than Tom. Later, Tom gave 2 sweets to Jerry.

Possible questions: Who had more sweets in the end? How many more?

Key considerations in subsequent TTTs before the research lesson includes:
In using bar models, students have learn to use a bar to represent known quantities. The use of a bar to represent unknown is new to these students. Models can be used to represent comparison situation (not new) and change situation (new). The team should examine the selected tasks in the lesson so that students have ample opportunities to engage with ideas new to them.

The team should also discuss how to increase the chance of students engaging with critical ideas and behaviours that the lesson is designed for i.e. to engage with problem-solving behaviours that would eventuate in successful independent problem solving.

A week before the research lesson, I will write an entry to prepare the team as to what they should look out for in the research lesson.