Teaching and Learning Strategies

As a teacher, we need a strategy in order to teach even if just standing in front of the classroom and keep on lecturing the students. It is still a teacher-centered strategy. Having said that, in order to conduct effective teaching and learning, we as a teacher have to think of a most suitable strategy that can best cater for everyone. With that, a lot of considerations has to be taken into account when choosing a particular strategy in teaching and learning such as the learning content, students’ learning styles, students’ learning abilities and students’ age range.

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First and foremost, learning content would affect my choice in choosing a strategy because certain learning contents are only suitable for some sorts of teaching and learning strategies. As an example, when I want to teach about simple addition, I can verbally tell them the method to solve an equation or demonstrate it on a board, writing down the working and explaining how it is done. This is more to teacher-centered as teacher is the presenter of the lesson. Students are just listening and following the instruction about what the teacher has taught. Whereas in contrast to teaching a topic about three-dimensional shapes, I can group students together and let them discuss about the characteristics of three-dimensional shapes so that they can share ideas with each other and generate a new understanding about this topic. This is when the constructivist approach come in as they have been exposed to concrete objects in real life, thus they can connect their prior knowledge to the new learning content and work cooperatively at the same time. This is more to student-directed approach. So, different learning contents require different learning strategies in order to achieve the desired learning outcomes.

Learning-Styles

Secondly, every student comes in as an individual with different learning experiences and learning styles. As a teacher, it is our role to embrace diversity in the classroom, so when deciding which strategy to implement into teaching, students’ learning styles have to be well considered in order to tap on students’ interest and keep them engaged. For instance, if I discovered that most of the students are kinesthetic learners, I would not use a strategy in which everyone is sitting quietly and listening to my lecture. Obviously it would demotivate them to learn and make them feel bored. Instead I would choose a strategy which allows them to move around and requires active participation such as going out to the classroom and measuring the length of 3 different types of leaves. Also, I can prepare lots of experiments for the students to try and experience. On the other hand, if half of the students are visual learners while half of them are audio learners, I would choose two different strategies for both groups of learners. As an example, I can incorporate technology in the lesson, prepare animation and pictures for the visual learners and record the audio for students to listen for the audio learners. What is more is that movie is best fit for both learners as it consists of sounds and scenes which taps on their learning styles. The use of strategy has greatly influence on students as they need something that can get their interest and attention in order to learn effectively.

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Thirdly, students have different abilities as they learn differently and they have their own understanding about certain topics. For students who learn slower than the others, they have to learn according to own pace thus I might slow down my lesson so that they can follow up what I am teaching. However, I need a differentiated strategy for them because other students have to learn as well, so I could not just slow down the lesson for evrperyone. For example, I personally think that round robin could not be a best strategy for them as it requires answers on the spot in which slow learners might not be able to process their thought quickly and thus feel embarrassed because people are putting them on spot. Whereas for students who learn fast or even gifted students, they need a different approach from the slow learners, or else they will find the lesson bored and not challenging. For what I have known about gifted students through the module- Inclusive Education, they tend to show their abilities in front of the class, thus teacher should not be the center of the lesson all the time but to give them some authority to share their thoughts. Sometimes it is hard for them to participate in group work as they will give orders to peers due to their high abilities in learning or find it not challenging. Therefore, teacher can let them have more individual time and assign them more complex tasks. However, peer tutoring can be an alternative way for both types of learners to enhance their learning, some students who learn faster than the slow learners can act as their tutor in guiding them or assisting them in learning. But teacher should always bear in mind that whether or not the students can get along.

download (1)Last but not least, age range is a crucial element in deciding the strategy when conducting a lesson. Some strategies can be applied to lower primary students whereas some are only suitable for upper primary students. For example, students in lower primary might not have long attention span as upper primary students, in this case I might need to incorporate more activities to keep the students busy and do something so that they can focus on what they are doing. One of the examples would be having them to play mathematics games because they can learn and play at the same time. However, I have to make sure that they are not directed to other websites and not addicted in the non-academic games. In my opinion, upper primary students have better discipline, thus cooperative learning can be implemented effectively into learning process as students are supposed to work together in a group on a structured activity . For example I can assign them a project in creating a Doraemon using different shapes, and they are required to do some research to gather information needed and  build a model. They are responsible for their work, expect to work cooperatively, contribute to the project and be interactive which are too complex for the lower primary students. In a nutshell, age appropriateness has to be considered too, so that the students are not overwhelmed with the mass information at the young age. However, easier said than done, we might generate a plan which seems perfect in teaching and learning process but in reality, are we really capable of taking all the considerations into account and come out with different strategies for different students? Well, I think we need years of teaching experiences in order to be an effective facilitator. It is difficult to have a strategy which is best fit for everyone, but at least we can choose a particular strategy which can be applied for majority.

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I discovered an online learning platform which is called “Power My Learning”, it allows teachers, parents and students to create their own account for a better learning experience.

IMG_7368I registered as a student to explore more about what students can make use of this in their learning. For students, they can create their own avatar which I think is an interesting feature. The avatar represents them so that they will take responsibility of their own learning.Also, it motivates students to participate in different exercises as they need to earn powers in order to proceed to the next level. Students are definitely  be motivated to compete themselves by actively participating in the activities.

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As the picture shown on the left, there are different subjects and different activities for students to attempt and practice. Students can choose Mathematics subject and select whatever activity they want to do. There is a saying that practice makes perfect, I totally agree with that. Students can make sense of their learning and reinforce their understanding about a particular topic through completing various assessments. On the other hand, the picture on the right side shows that when students answer wrongly, there will be explicit explanation so that they know why they got it wrong and learn from their mistake. I think this is necessary because if there is no explanation, the students might just ignore their mistake and move on to the next question without thinking what is wrong with their answer.

As every student can access to this website, they can connect and compete with their peers, of course in a positive way. For example, students should be constantly reminded that they are not just merely competing with each other in terms of level, but they are also learning together and motivating each other to move forward. With this feature, students can track their peers’ progress and remind each other to complete the exercise or even provide guidance when needed. Moreover, as parents can involve in their child’ s learning, they can even help them to set a goal to achieve so that students can get the real reward. For example, a mother sets a goal for her child which is to reach level 3 within a week, if her child can achieve it within a time frame, she will bring her child for a picnic in the park. It is a behaviorism approach in which students are rewarded for desired behavior and they are more likely to repeat their behavior in order to get another reward. Also, parent can monitor students’ progress and give assistance when the students are having doubts in their learning.

Whereas for teachers, once they have registered, they can personalize instruction for students with different levels of understanding and learning styles. For example, there are various methods can be used by teacher to enhance the teaching process such as videos, games and tools. Also, teachers can assign task for individual student, a group of students or even the entire class so that they can follow the instruction everywhere no matter in school or outside school. When students are progressing, teachers can use checkpoints or playlist tasks to check on students’ current level and provide immediate feedback when needed. Furthermore, teachers can get the reports of students learning process and use it as a useful information for next stage of teaching. In a nutshell,i think that this online resource allows educators, parents and learners to work together and at the same time it makes learning fun and interesting as students are involved in technology, assessments are done using gadgets and it instills game feature into learning as compared to traditional paper and pencil type of learning.

download (2)Technology has now become one of the essential things in our daily life no matter in teaching and learning, working and shopping, travelling and exercising, we need the aide of technology. The implementation of technology in the classroom is inevitable because we are living in the 21st century which surrounded by all the advanced technologies. As I have visited to Taylor’s International School for a few times, I have noticed that technology is everywhere even for security purpose which amazed me the most, the parents use their access card to tap on a machine when they want to pick up their children and their names would be shown in a LED board to inform that they can go out. However, I have different opinions on the use of technology in students learning.

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The pros of using technology is that students have greater interest in learning because in this 21st century, most of the people have gadgets, they are immersed into a world which full of gadgets. So teaching and learning methods need to be up to date to the latest technology. Paper and pencil are less likely to be used, instead, electronical gadgets are replaced. If teacher integrate technology into teaching, it would tap on students interest as most of them are using technology at home. For example, if teacher wants to give multiple choice questions in Mathematics, instead of having students to circle the answer on the paper, teacher can create the worksheet using Google form and ask the students to attempt the questions online. Also, instead of having students to complete worksheets in the exercise books, students can solve the equation and show the working to the whole class using interactive whiteboard or smart board which can be saved and retrieved when needed. As the picture shown above, when a student is writing on the interactive whiteboard, the rest of the students are looking at  the board. Interactive whiteboard provides chance for students to interact with each other so that they can keep engaged, but teachers have to make sure that everyone is participating and no one is left behind for a better outcome.

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Besides that, technologies enhance learning process. Advanced technology provides us more resources other than textbook, charts, maps. For example, it allows teacher and students to access the information easily and quicker. If the teacher assigns a case study on how students usually study Mathematics for exam, the students can gain a lot of insight through countless website. Also, they can access it anywhere at anytime which is convenient. In addition, technology provides more vivid, and creative example or demonstration about a certain thing in which students can have a big picture of how something looks like and deepen their understanding. It helps to provide a lively example of abstract thing so that the students can have a better understanding. For example, if I want to teach students about 3 dimensional shapes, students can find them on the Internet and can see different angles and perspectives of the shapes. The pictures above shows that technology can be used in teaching Science too.

But, there is drawback in using technology . In my opinion, although technology seems perfect in teaching and learning process but I personally think that the excess use of technoogy might eliminate students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Why would I said that is because as everyone knows that we can find anything we want to know through Internet, thus there is a tendency to be dependent on the online resources because when most of us have any question in our mind, we would choose to rely on the internet rather than solving the problem by our own. For example, when I want to know about how to solve a particular mathematical question, countless of solutions are up there to be used. It might be good in a sense that it saves time and much more convenient for some people, but we have to understand the underlying truth is that students would not even try to think of the answers, instead, Internet has everything they want. As time goes by, they could not longer develop the thinking skills because they do not practice to think independently anymore. To be frank, I think I sometimes over rely on the Internet that I am too lazy to think critically which is definitely not a good thing for learning process. That is why I think that this is the cons of using technology.

Hence, technology is good and bad at the same time. It only depends on how we are going to utilize it and manage it in order to achieve desired outcomes.

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