All posts by YeeTin Toh

About YeeTin Toh

I am currently studying in Bachelor of Primary School Education in Taylor's University. The reason why I chose this course is because I have been worked in a primary school as a substitute teacher for a month. After that, I found out that I love to interact with the kids and would like to have expertise on how to make their learning fun and effective.

Week 3

Proactiveplay_van_Hiele-Model-of-Thought This picture is retrieved from http://proactiveplay.com/the-van-hieles-model-of-geometric-thinking/

I have a better understanding about what geometric thinking is as compared to last week as I did not know what it was and had confusion in understanding the term. Through the video and the points written on the lecture slide, I know that geometric thinking is developed from Van Hiele’s Levels of development and Spatial sense. There are levels in Van Hiele’s model and the activities given in the video makes me understand the concept of geometric thinking better.

I think that I should have more knowledge in different shapes, as I learnt mathematics in Mandarin, it is hard for me to translate and recognize the terminologies. Therefore, I need to put more effort in learning the shapes in order to be an effective teacher. Also, spatial sense is crucial in learning geometry, the problem is I do not really have this sense. These are the things I have to work on. There are interesting ways to develop children’s spatial sense from the link http://www.ilslearning.com/2015-02-6-activities-improve-spatial-awareness/

We have watched a video about the activities carried out in Israel classroom. Various tasks are given for the students to have a better understanding in different shapes. And I think that hands-on activities are really important because students learn by doing. Therefore, I would include a lot of hands-on activities in my lesson in order to engage students. Like what Dr. Peterson said that “You have to do stuff, you can’t learn passively” from the link http://gettingsmart.com/2013/03/learning-by-doing-the-neurology-of-math/

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Week 3

I have learnt that there are actually misconceptions about inquiry-based. Before that, I would only think that there are misconceptions in scientific concepts. For instance, teachers thought that all science should be taught through student-directed inquiry, but actually it is not. Teachers could not fully let go of their responsibility in facilitating the students. Instead, they should provide sufficient help in students’ learning. The misconceptions have to be recognized in order to  learn Science efficiently. I found a website which outlines different types of misconceptions. http://serc.carleton.edu/sp/process_of_science/misconceptions.html

The one thing I need more improvement is that how to conduct an experiment. For today’s last activity, I have realized that I almost forgot what I have learnt in primary school or mainly because there was not much experiments conducted in my school. I am having difficulty in thinking of an experiment, but with the inputs given by my friends, I sort of get the idea and recap on what I have learnt before. The link provides various experiments with guideline which are useful. http://www.csiro.au/en/Education/DIY-science

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Steps in teaching science

This picture is retrieved from http://ssds-science5774.weebly.com/scientific-inquiry-process.html

I think that I can implement the science inquiry steps if I am to teach science in the future. I always like something that is step by step so that I can go through each of them explicitly. For example, the science inquiry provides procedural methods in teaching the students, it provides us as teachers a guideline in teaching science effectively.

Issues in teaching Mathematics

I1malaysian Malaysia, we could not really avoid having diversity in the classroom as the citizens are made up from Malays, Chinese, Indians and other minorities. Multicultural environment in education has its advantages and disadvantages. However, the focus of this reflection would be on the issues in teaching Mathematics from the perspective of multiculturalism. In my opinion, there would be three main issues in teaching diversity, namely the biasness, language problem and culture shock.

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Firstly, it is undeniable that most of the people have stereotypes towards certain races, even I am one of them. It is strange that we would have certain ideas associate with certain races. For example, I do not know why but I just heard people around me have been saying that Malays are not good in Mathematics and Chinese always do well in Mathematics since young. Until now I still have this conception that Malays are not good in Mathematics, as I went to the mamak stall,I have noticed that they use calculator to count whereas the Chinese would use mental strategy to count. Also, I have experienced  a few times when the Malays count the money wrong which deepen my stereotype towards them. As a result, the teacher might have the same stereotype as me, and it would probably affect the expectation he or she has towards certain ethics. When the expectation is different, the teacher might prepare different learning materials for students from different cultures, teach differently or put less focus on them in teaching Mathematics as they think that they are not good, so they might leave them alone. It is common in my high school, my teachers used to leave the students behind just because they are weak in the subjects and also mainly because they themselves refused to learn. On the other hand, when teacher has biasness about multicultural students, they could favor students who have the same race as he or she. So, inequality exists which will affect the teachers’ attitude in teaching the students. Same as the stereotypes which will bring the similar outcomes if the teachers have biasness among students with different races. I totally have biasness towards certain races, but I also realize that it would not help me to become a better teacher. Thus, like the picture shown on the right side, I have to stop bias. Although I could not make sure whether I can do it but I must and should try to be fair. Hence, this is the first issue that I think of in teaching Mathematics in multicultural environment.

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Moreover, when it comes to different races or cultures, language could not run away from it. Different races have their own language which make them unique from one another. Consequently, it would be a big issue in teaching Mathematics as students are exposed to their own languages, especially when the medium is in English, they will have language issue in understanding and therefore struggle in learning. Just like the pictures shown above, everyone speaks their own language and they would have to switch to English as medium for learning. For instance, based on my observation in Taylor’s International School Kuala Lumpur, there is one Indian boy who could not understand English and he has limited vocabulary which makes him hard to communicate with the teachers and peers. So, the class teacher has to send him to the learning support center and segregated from his classmates when he has not reach the proficiency in English. With that, I think that it is difficult for students to learn and for teachers to teach if they do not understand the language and effective learning and teaching would not take place too. As another example, my first language is Mandarin, but when I started learning Mathematics in English after 6 years of Mandarin as a medium, it took me times to adapt to the change and I lost my motivation to learn. For me, it was totally a nightmare during that time because I have to start learning Mathematics from the basic again. What is worse is that if there is no learning support teacher who specializes in teaching English for native speakers, the teacher would have difficulty in teaching because he or she has to take care of the majorities and also consider the minorities at the same time. I think that it is one of the hardest thing because differentiated instruction is needed and sometimes it can be quite frustrating when the students could not understand the language. Frankly, I am learning to appreciate individuality and try to be more patient in my later teaching because I can understand how they feel when the language is not their major.

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Last but not least, culture shock is also one of the common issues that would arise when teaching in multicultural environment. Although it is temporary, but when students from different background and carry different beliefs are in the same classroom, all the differences might seem odd for them. For instance, the things they talk about, the ways they express themselves, and the importance of various ideas may be very different from what others are used to. When explaining the concept of Mathematics and giving the examples, teachers have to be very careful of the examples they use. If the teachers give an example about the Chinese culture, the Malays and Indians might feel uncomfortable and have less understanding about it. I think that it can also lead to demotivation as they do not understand the whole thing. Thus, they would not have interest in learning Mathematics. Other than that, the way Chinese learn Mathematics can be different from the way Malays learn Mathematics. So when it comes to an integrated situation, the teacher has to think about how to teach so that it can best  fit for every student. In my opinion, it is kind of hard because every teacher has their teaching style, if teacher is used to teach this way, it would be hard for them to change to another way of teaching.

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Students should be treated the same and given equal accessibility regardless of cultures and races.

In conclusion, a lot of issues might be faced by the teachers even if there is no diversity in the classroom such as misbehavior and learning needs, what on top is that if there is multicultural environment. I think that teachers need to be aware of different cultures and make sure that everyone is given equal accessibility to learn. Although it might be difficult to teach, but as a teacher we have believe that everyone is teachable, and there is nothing to do with their cultures. At last, being a teacher is not a simple job as my mentor for school placement told me that we would have a lot of challenges to face and would have to solve them. Although I am not the kind of person who likes challenges, but life is not always easy, therefore I keep her advice in mind that when you have accomplished something, you feel satisfied and that is what move you forward.

Motivation for learning

images Motivation is something that occurs in our daily life every now and then. For example, I have always heard people saying that ‘I do not have motivation to do this’ or ‘I need some motivation’, not only others but even I myself needs motivation all the time in order to complete my task, no matter in learning, working, or losing weight, we need motivation. Based on what I have learnt in Understanding Learners and Learning during the second semester, motivation is an internal process that activates, guides, and maintains behaviour over time. It is one of the most critical components of learning but also one of the most difficult things to measure at the same time because it varies in intensity and direction and it is intangible. In my opinion, there are some key elements that motivate us to learn such as reward, a sense of accomplishment, relevancy and interest.

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First of all, reward is the most common reason why we are motivated to learn or achieve something. In Understanding Learners and Learning class, we have come acrossed the motivation and behavioral learning theory which believed that motivation is a consequence of reinforcement. It indicates that reward motivates students to move forward in order to get it. It is generally seen in the classroom where the teachers will use candy as a reward to motivate the students to participate in the discussion. The picture on the left side shows some of the rewards that can be given by the teachers to motivate students. Some are really applicable for my later teaching but I think that some are inappropriate to give as a reward such as sitting at teacher’s desk and couch which I think it is a sign of disrespect. Also, incentive can be used as a great tool to motivate students in learning. For example, my teachers liked to say that if we did our homework and passed it up on time, we would get extra marks in the final exam. Of course we would listen to her because we wanted the marks. I could not deny that this it is a good way to motivate students, however, students are only learning for the final product, not the process. Thus, the purpose of motivation is somehow neglected as it is only focusing on extrinsic motivation.

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This was taken during the ceremony in 2009 where I got my reward from one of the members in Toh Association.

As another example, my family used to give me price as a reward when I got excellent results in the exams such as UPSR, SPM and UEC. Furthermore, the Toh Association, my surname’s association, will give price for students who get merit resulIts and I have received price from the association since primary school. This reward might seem different from giving present, but it surprisingly works on me. It is not that I am a money-driven person, but it somehow just motivates me to study even harder to get the reward. Or I guess maybe it is because it will make me think that I can earn my own money by studying hard. Reward is always seen as a contributor to extrinsic motivation, but I think that it will eventually convert to intrinsic motivation, at least for me it is. I have to admit that I was motivated to learn just because of the desirable price when I was in junior middle level. As I grow up, the reward has disappeared gradually because my family knows nothing about CGPA, I did not blame them because I am not aiming to gain price from them. I feel glad because they have shaped me into a hardworking person and the concept of studying hard is rooted in my mind even if there is no reward. Therefore, I think that extrinsic motivation has switched to intrinsic motivation in my case.

The feeling of gaining achievement is just like standing on the top of the mountain and you feel proud of yourself that you manage to do it.
The feeling of gaining achievement is just like standing on the top of the mountain and you feel proud of yourself that you manage to do it.

Secondly, I think that achievement can motivate people to learn because when they have achieved something, they tend to develop a sense of accomplishment or even a sense of pride. Also, it gives people a prove or reassure them that they have the ability to do something and thus they might gain more confidence and put more effort in achieving goal. For instance, I was in the first rank in my class during secondary school, this achievement was really an awesome achievement because I have never thought of getting such a high rank in my learning experience. As a result, it turned out to be a motivation for me to learn and sustain my ranking because I have gained so much confidence from my achievement. Another example, I had been studying so hard for  SPM, when I saw the results I burst out crying because it proved to me that my hard work get paid off. When everyone was congratulating me, a sense of pride has developed simultaneously and I felt proud of myself too. As a result, I was motivated to gain another achievement in the next exam which was the Unified Examination Center (UEC), although the results was not that bad but it was not as good as my expectation, overall it was still a great achievement for me. However, it did not affect my motivation to learn, even when I am in university, I still have the intrinsic motivation to learn and study. I admit that I enjoy to achieve something desirable, and that is why I get most of the motivations from achievement.

Do not let the stduents' doubt kills their motivation in learning
Do not let the students’ doubt kills their motivation in learning

images (2) Success equals to relevance, I think that relevance and interest can affect one’s motivation in learning. Therefore, learning content  has to be made relevant and interesting to the students by relating it to the real life situation or even students themselves, only then can the students have the motivation and passionate to learn. From student’s perspective, I would think that if what I am going to learn is not applicable to my life or useful in my future,  why am I studying it for then. I am sure that everyone needs to know the connection between learning and real life in order to be motivated to learn. For example,in my previous learning experience, when learning human organs in Science, I am more than willing to learn because I know that it is related to the real world and human beings, thus motivation is enhanced. Also, whenever the teachers mention that a particular topic is important to everyone as it is useful in our future life or career, I tend to have more motivation to learn as it is directed to myself and it would be my own loss if I did not learn about it. Whereas if the learning content taps on students’ interest, they will be motivated to learn as they might feel they are valued. When a student’s curiosity is aroused, he or she will have motivation to explore it and seek it out. For instance, when I was teaching Geopgraphy in primary school , some students were excited to sit around me and listened to me teaching about the world maps. When I asked them questions, they were just too enthusiastic to respond and I felt happy because they were so passionate in learning this topic. Even for me, I have passionate in travelling, when the teachers were teaching world maps in Geography class, I would always eager to learn and full of motivation and attention because that is my interest. However, I have realized it is difficult to make sure that the whole class is listening because their interest varies. Some topics might be interesting for certain students and some might not. And as a teacher, I know there would be some limitations in teaching because I could not cater to everyone’s needs. What I can do is trying to maximize students’ motivation in  learning, and as time goes by, I will gain more and more experience. In a nutshell,  I personally think that all these elements above are effective in motivating students to learn as I have experienced before.

As individual is different from one another, therefore when they are gathered up in a classroom, the classroom becomes a mixture because learners come from different family background, culture, beliefs, learning styles and learning abilities. Therefore there would be various types of learners such as gifted learners, average learners, slow learners or learners with learning difficulties. download (2) In order to motivate gifted learners, my own tip is that the teachers might have to come out with a lot of pedagogics, ideas and instruction. Based on what I have learnt about  gifted learners in Inclusive Education and Teaching Mathematics to the students, they learn faster than the others by requiring less instructional time and attention, they are problem solver and information processor, sometimes they might be observant, have good memory or even speak sophisticated language. When we want to motivate gifted learners in learning, we need a differentiated instruction for them. For example, teachers can prepare lesson in a same topic as others but requires higher order thinking and Socratic questions so that they need to think advanced. Challenging assessment or tasks can be provided for gifted learners but bear in mind that tasks are too complex and not achievable could demotivate the learners. Other than that, technology can be implemented into learning such as the online platform that I have introduced  in the previous reflection. Power My Learning would be a great tool to motivate gifted learners as they are required to challenge themselves by completing level by level. I think that most of the kids are always motivated when they heard of “games”. Moreover, gifted learners might need enrichment to boost their motivation in learning by participating in competition that is specifically designed for the gifted learners. With that, all of them are clustered and they could share their ideas together for a better learning experience. Again, it is always easier said than done, I have one classmate who learnt faster than anyone in Mathematics in secondary school, but we were learning in the same pace without differentiated tasks for him. As a result, whenever he finished his work, he would do other things which were not relevant to mathematics.

When you see this picture? What would come to your mind? Struggling? Frustrated?
When you see this picture, what would come to your mind? Struggling? Frustrated?

In addition, for learners who have learning difficulties, we need different strategies from gifted learners. Students struggle in the classroom is a common phenomena, sometimes when students face problems in their learning, they might lost their interest or motivation easily, and give up eventually. Therefore, I think that what teachers can do is to provide teaching aids that can best help in motivating students with learning difficulties. For example, teachers can organize field trip for students because it is fun and they will be engaged; when students are struggling in learning abstract topics, teachers could bring in concrete objects to gain their motivation or teachers can use the aid of technology to help struggling students have a better understanding about certain topics. Also, as Vygotsky suggested that scaffolding is undeniably important in learning, I agree with it and believe that it is more crucial especially for students with learning difficulties. By just imagine that I am helpless, the feeling would eliminate my motivation in learning. So do the students, that is why I think that by providing guidance and support to the struggling students will motivate them to learn as they know which direction they are heading. Frankly, there was one girl in my class that seemed lost whenever I asked her some questions, I have noticed that she was not paying attention during the lesson, and she did not do her homework as well. At that moment, I did not ask whether or not she understood the lesson, and just left her there because I did not know what to do to help her. After that, I mentioned her case to other teachers, and knew that she is a slow learner. However, I could not do anything now as I am no longer her teacher, but it makes me realized that I have made a big mistake by not helping her at that time. Thus, if I have ever met any struggling students in the future, I will learn to be patient and try to help them as much as I can. On the other hand, I think that it is not only the teachers’ responsibility to motivate the students, but also the parents and peers. They play equally important role in motivating students to learn. For parents, they can provide extra guidance at home in helping struggling students with their learning. Also, complimenting is definitely important as they need assurance by others saying that they are capable in doing something only they are motivated to learn. Parents can reward students with learning difficulties when they have achieved their goals so that they can take it as a motivation to continue further their learning. Whereas for peers, they can help in establishing a positive and conducive learning environment so that learners with learning difficulties would not feel inferior in the class or fear to take risk in learning. Peers should not look down at them, instead they should respect each other and provide support regularly. With that, I believe that students motivation can be enhanced without discrimination from others.

Last but not least, everyone has their own emotion and it is usually uncontrollable. It is not odd that students carry their emotions or personal issues into the class. However, as a teacher, we need to minimize the effects of their personal issues has on their learning. From my experience, I think that in order to identify whether or not the person has personal issue, you will have to observe their action and facial expression. For instance, when my friend did not initiate or participate in the conversation, or she looked blur and lost all the time, I would know that something was wrong with her. Same goes to students, they are at their young age in which it is easier to identify than an adult because they could not hide their emotions. Since we could not change how they react or feel as this is their internal thought, at least in motivating students with personal issues, teachers can prepare various fun and engaging activities for students to participate. In my opinion, I think active participation is the best way to distract students’ attention from their personal issues because when they are engrossed in the activity, their current attention would be put in the activity. Why would I say that is because I was upset because I spoilt my plan, but when I had a group discussion with my friends, I would immersed into it without thinking of my own issue. Hence, it could be one of the best solutions in motivating students with personal issues.

In a nutshell, students’ motivation is significant in effective learning process and there are various methods that can help in boosting their motivation. I have read one article written by a teacher in a newspaper before,  she said that what you wanted to teach did not mean what the students wanted to learn. I totally agree with what she has said because we could not expect everyone to accept what are given to them. As a result, we could only try the methods on them and see whether or not it works in motivating students. If not, we have to use another strategy. Teaching and learning are just like life, we step out and try, we fall and make mistake, and that is how we grow and learn from our mistake. images (4)

Be motivated and get things done!

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.

Psychological theories of learning

theory As a student, I have always heard of the term ‘theory’ ever since primary and secondary schools. Yet I do not really have curiosity to find out the meaning of the term because I thought it is not necessary to be learnt. However, until I started my degree program, I have come across psychological theories in most of the modules I took. Until then I realized those theories exist in daily life unconsciously. For example, I am taught about different psychological theories and meanwhile the lecturers are actually implementing those theories into practice in daily lesson.

faces2nrPsychology Psychological theory is a set of study that is based on hypothesis and evidences (Cherry.K, 2012) . It usually represents a concept or a idea that has been tested and experimented for a long period of time. Psychological theories are used to provide an insight on how people think, feel, and behave. In other words, we can understand more about human thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Different approaches of psychological theories have been introduced and proposed by psychologists to explain and predict various aspects of human behavior such as Behavioral Theories, Cognitive Theories, Constructive Theories and Humanist Theories.

images  Although there are various psychological approaches to education, but there is no single theory or approach that can be applied or worked for everyone. This is because everyone is unique and can be differentiated by one another. However, they do give me some useful information as a future teacher. First and foremost, the theories identify individual’s learning styles and provide a better understanding on how people absorb and retain new information. With the information given, I can accept individual differences and acknowledge their participation regardless of their levels of understanding and mastery. For example, I learnt about Piaget’s cognitive theory in the previous semesters and what I understand about Piaget’s theory is that a child’s cognitive development is varied and he believed that children think differently than adults. He studied children from infancy to adolescence, and carried out many investigations using his three children (McLeod, 2009). He then came out with 4 universal stages of cognitive development which explained that every child will go through each stage in order to develop their cognition and no stage can be missed out. It implies that every learner learns according to their own pace,  therefore as a teacher, I could assess the learners current level of understanding by various assessments to get information about their progress. I can use the information to design my instruction and lesson plan in order to ensure that suitable tasks are set based on the level of the learners’ development. Also, if some children are facing difficulties in solving equation, I would understand the idea that they have different levels of cognitive development from others and it does not indicate that they are poor in the particular subject. So I can give them some guidance and time to complete their task without thinking they are not smart or they have learning difficulties. A very true experience of myself, I have a cousin who is 11-year-old this year, I am his teacher at home as I help him in completing his homework regularly. He always looks confused when it comes to his homework. At first, I scolded him just because he could not think of the answer whenever I asked him question. However when I started learning about Piaget’s theory, I realized that I have made a big mistake that hurt him badly because different children learn differently according to their development. Also, I could not expect him to think as the way I think, instead I should think from his perspective. This is definitely a wake up call for me to accept his level of development  without criticizing him for not doing well. Although sometimes I will still get frustrated if he could not understand what I am talking about, yet I am trying to give him more encouragement and support rather than criticism from now on.

download (1)  Secondly, psychological theories provide different pedagogics that can be implemented and applied in the education. As teacher is the critical figure in a student’s learning journey , I think that there is a need to have lots of teaching strategies in my mind that can be retrieved easily  in order to ensure that students are fully engaged during the lesson . For instance, constructivism is one of the psychological theories that proposed that learners are active creator of their own knowledge while teachers are the facilitator of their learning (Huitt,2009). One of the applications of Constructivism in the classroom would be to articulate new constructed knowledge with students’ previous experience.They come to learning situations with already formulated knowledge, ideas, and understandings. Therefore the prior knowledge is essential for the new knowledge they will create. I as a teacher could act as a facilitator by giving them opportunity to construct their own knowledge. As an example, I can show a picture of a leave to the students and ask them to measure the length of the leave. Instead of telling them that they can use ruler to measure it, I give them time to reflect and construct their own methods of measurement. Some might use their hair as a tool whereas some might offer the idea that they can use hands to measure the length. Hence, I can tell the students which method is the most accurate way of measuring and acknowledge their effort in constructing new knowledge. The teaching method in this approach emphasizes more on student-centered learning rather than teacher-orientated learning.

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It has been 16 years to play a role as a student and it is still counting. When I sat back and tried to reflect on which particular theory of learning has been applied and used by my teachers in daily lessons, it is surprising that only one theory pops out , which is the Behaviorist Theory. Behaviorism believed that people’s mind is a blank slate when born, so all the behaviours are shaped or learnt through conditioning. As the picture shown above, conditioning is a process that uses stimulus to get the desired response or behavior. Also, behaviors can be repeated through reinforcement in which teacher praises for students who pay attention in the class, so the students tend to pay more attention in all the classes in order to get praise from the teacher. When think about Behaviorism, reinforcement and punishment are always associated with this and they are always the first to come to my mind. They are commonly practiced in classroom setting but I did not realize that they are actually parts of behaviorism.

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Trace back to my primary school experience, when I raised up my hand to ask a question during the lesson, my teacher would praise for my behavior in front of my classmates that I had raised a good question which nobody had thought of. Thus, I felt a sense of proud of myself and her praise had somehow made me to reassure my ability. So I tend to ask a lot of questions in her class just to receive more compliments from the teacher. Before learning the theory, I have never thought that my behavior is actually being reinforced by the praise, I just knew that I enjoyed to be praised because it kinds of boost my confidence in this particular subject. Now I realized that my teacher was using positive reinforcement to increase the desired behavior by praising me. On the other hand, punishment is inevitably being applied in the classroom. This is definitely not a new word for me because I believe that everyone must have experiences being punished in school as me. To be frank, I would not think that punishment is actually an application of theory, it is just a typical action that most of the teachers will use in respond to disruptive behaviors. Of course I had done something undesired and received punishment from the teachers in my secondary school. There was once I had my meal in the classroom instead of canteen during the recess, because I brought my own food and was lazy to eat in the crowd. This was a school rule that nobody was allowed to eat in the classroom. Unfortunately, I was caught by a prefect and sent to the discipline room. The discipline teacher gave me a black remark and it was shown on my school report. Even though it was not a corporal punishment, but it had its effect on me because the black remark would leave a bad impression of me when other people saw the report. Since then, I was very cautious of my behaviors in school and made sure I did not against the school rules. Punishment actually helps a lot in decreasing and eliminating students’ undesired behavior.

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Furthermore, one of the applications of Behaviorism in the classroom is drill and practice. Drills refer to the repetitive practice of different skills (Lewis, 2004). It gives students an opportunity to learn certain concepts quickly and effectively as they can master the basic skills step by step. It is common when it comes to learning a language. For example, when learning new vocabularies, my teacher would list down a list of words and had us writing them for 10 times for each word. This was a drill in practice so that we could remember all the words. Other than that, when I wrote words wrongly in the essay, my teacher would actually ask me to copy the whole essay for correction, especially in primary school. Also, even in essay writing, my teacher used to give everyone of us an essay and asked us to memorize for the exam in primary school. When it came to exam, we basically wrote everything we memorized with a little bit of own thoughts.  Besides that, surprisingly that learning mathematical subjects such as book keeping, drill and practice was actually used by my teacher. The purposes of using drill and practice seem pretty obvious which are mastering the types of questions and approaching the questions easily in the exam. For instance, after learning a new topic in book keeping, my teacher would give us more than 10 worksheets to practice in order to ensure that all of us remember how to solve the questions.

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However, everything has its pros and cons and those applications have their constraints in students’ learning. As an example, reinforcement sometimes emphasizes too much on extrinsic motivation rather than intrinsic motivation. My teacher would give us a reward when we completed our homework within a given time. As a result, everyone would compete with each other and finish their own work no matter which methods they used. It would be copying from other people work or simply wrote something in order to get the reward. But the underlying fact was that learning did not exist as it only focused on the product of learning instead of the process. As in Mathematics which requires problem solving skill and logical thinking skill, if students copy from others, they are not actually learning but just trying to get to the end quickly without putting their effort in completing the assignment. So the purpose of reinforcement is defeated. In addition, sometimes the punishment can be too slight or too harsh which would bring the undesired consequence. I have once whipped by my teacher for wearing a pair of short length socks, but it was a light hit and I did not feel any pain. Thus, I did not really care or scare about the punishment and it did not have an effect on me. What did not change was that I continued wearing the socks. Another example would be my teacher used to reprimand my friend for not passing his exam in front of the class. She might not realized that she actually hurt my friend and eliminated his motivation to further his study. Even I felt embarrassed and sad for him, imagine how hard it was for him to stand with the situation. The setback of this punishment was that my friend disliked the teacher even more and refused to pay attention during her class.

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Last but not least, one of the setbacks of Behaviorism is the passive learners are trained. The picture shown on the left indicates that knowledge are given to the students without having them to take part of it. As the example mentioned earlier, copying the whole essay for correction did not provide chance for us as students to discover our own mistake, instead the teacher would wrote down what we have done wrong. Frankly, I just focused on copying the essay in order to pass up rather than thinking of the words that I wrote wrong. Students are supposed to have better impression of their mistakes and be aware next time, but for me, I usually forgot the purpose of correction because I just wanted to get it done. By doing the worksheets of the same topics for so many times, I tend to memorize how it is done rather than internalize the skill to do it. It was because some of the worksheets only had difference in terms of the numbers, but the construction of the questions remained the same. It did not elicit critical thinking and allow me to apply problem solving skill either. In terms of essay writing, we were trained as a passive learner because essay was supposed to be constructed by the students so that they could reflect on their past experience and wrote their own essay. Also, creativity was discouraged because we just memorized what the teacher gave. When it came to standardized testing  such as UPSR and PMR where we could not rely on the materials that provided by our teacher, we tend to get lost and did not know how and what to write as we were not used to construct our own essay.

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So how do we avoid the setbacks in the future? Well, we have to know what kind of reinforcement to give that would bring the desired consequence. We have to be aware of the use of reinforcement, do not simply reinforce the behavior without considering whether it would benefit in teaching and learning process. For example, we should always put learning in the forefront, so what we can do is to make the statement clear that students do not only have to pass up their homework on time, but they have to show their working instead of just giving the answer. Therefore, students would know that their effort is appreciated and they would show their working in order to get rewarded. Nowadays, corporal punishment is no longer a trend in classroom setting. As a teacher, I think that we have to think of the appropriate punishment that will bring out the most pleasant outcome. For instance, if I want to stop my student from wearing violative socks, I could use verbal warning for the first time, if she keeps ignoring it, I would then give her a black remark. Also, reprimanding students for not doing well in the exam is definitely a no, as teacher, we should respect students no matter how they perform. Instead of reprimanding, I would provide feedback and guide the students for more improvement.

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Having said that, drill and practice is effective for learning new Chinese words as we will recognize the structure of the words by practicing them. However, we could implement some elements of Constructivism which is shifting the students from passive learner to active learner. Especially in Mathematics, instead of writing down the working and the answers on the board, sometimes we can have them to formulate their own solution and decide which is the most effective way to use. When it comes to essay writing, we can help students to articulate their past experience to the topics of essay, so that they can construct their own essay with the guidance of teachers.

In a nutshell, no psychological theory can stand alone, the best way would be incorporatimg all of them into teaching and learning process for a better outcome. However, it depends on various factors to decide on which approach to use such as our own teaching styles, students’ learning styles and needs. It is usually easier said than done as we need years of experience to make teaching effective.

Reference:

Cherry, K. (2012). What is a theory. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from About Education:      http://psychology.about.com/od/tindex/f/theory.htm

Huitt, W. (2009). Constructivism. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from Educational Psychology Interactive:    http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/cognition/construct.html

Lewis, V. (2004). The advantages and disadvantages of practice and drill in teaching. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from Ehow:    www.ehow.com/info_8716462_advantages-practice-drills-teaching

McLeod, S. (2009). Jean Piaget. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from Simple Psychology:  http://www.simplypsychology.org/piaget.html

The importance of learning Mathematics

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Before going into the discussion of why Mathematics is important, there is a need to understand the definition of the term. According to dictionary, Mathematics is the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, abstractions, measurement and transformation. In simpler term, Mathematics is the study of the numbers, quantities, shapes and space by using mathematical processes, rules and symbols.

Although I have never had a deep research into this field, but I first known about the history of Mathematics was during the first class of “Teaching Mathematics to the Students”. I have learnt that Mathematics existed even during ancient time and it is still being used widely in the 21st century. Thus, it implies the usefulness and the importance of Mathematics in life.

Mathematics is one of the core subjects aligned with Science and Language Art, in the process of teaching and learning and is being taught in schools around the world. Students have the rights to know about the purposes of learning Mathematics.  If I were a teacher,  I would like to tell my students about its importance during daily lesson. For example, if I am teaching a particular topic, I will relate it to the real life situation in order for students to realize that what they are learning are useful and applicable in their life and future career. Thus, they would be more interested in learning because anything which related to self would arouse their interest effectively.

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In my opinion, Mathematics is important because it exists in everything in our life. First and foremost, we learn about money in Mathematics such as the ringgit and the sen. It is essential as we use money regularly to buy things that we need and we desire to get such as food and drinks, clothes and handbags. When we are buying something, we need to calculate how much money we have with us and how much we can spend on it. Other than that, while waiting for the cashier to give back the change, we can use the mental strategy which is doing the calculation in our mind without saying it out or writing it down ,and count how much will we get back as the change. That is when Mathematics comes in to help us in order to be a wiser consumer as we would not be cheated. For instance, I have experienced once in which the cashier gave me back the wrong change when I was buying a fruit juice, luckily I have calculated how much should I get back from her beforehand and managed to tell her the exact amount she should return. Since then, again I realized the importance of Mathematics in our daily life , even through a simple buying and selling. In order to let the students to have a better understanding, for example they can be given a chance to role play as a seller and a buyer, then simulate the situation where they have to buy drinks and the seller has to find the change for the buyer. This can actually reinforce their prior knowledge and enable them to apply their knowledge into practice.

XE-currency-2Besides that, Mathematics helps when we are out in other countries as different currencies are used. For instance, as to convert Malaysia Ringgit into Singapore Dollar, we have to use multiplication according to the current rate in order to get the right amount of money. With Mathematics, we are able to convert the prices in foreign currency correctly when we see some souvenirs , food and clothes, thus can make decision whether or not they are worth to buy. From my personal experience, I saw my favorite novel in Thailand in which the price was 395 baht, as I converted and calculated how much it costs in Malaysia, I can clearly know that it was way much cheaper in Thailand, thus I bought it immediately. This indicates that Mathematics is useful even when we are outside the country. I will ask the students to imagine that they are going for a vacation in South Korea, and they will have RM 1,000 with them, by giving them the rate of the currency, they are able to convert it by themselves with scaffolding when necessary and realized the importance of Mathematics outside the border of school.

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In addition, Mathematics contributes to our daily life as we have taught of the concept of date and time. These two elements are interrelated as everyday is represented by a specific date and 24 hours. Date and time have crucial role in our life as we live with the presence of both of them.  As students, we need to know the deadline of our assignments so that we are able to count how much days left from the day given and manage our time efficiently in order to complete the task. For instance, a project is given to me on the 21st of February 2015, and the due date is on 1st March 2015, which implies that I have 9 days to complete my assignment. With that information, I can work on it according to my pace. Also, knowing the date allows us to keep track of some important events by setting reminder in the calendar. Another example would be, we need time to organize our daily activity, we could not live without looking at the time, no matter we want to wake up, to have meals or to study and work. For example, we need to grasp the concept of 24-hour format and different time zones. We use mathematics to find out the time by subtraction, for instance, 1300 in 24-hour format is actually 1 o’clock by subtracting 12. Other than that, we have different time zones in different countries. For example, Malaysia follows GMT+8 whereas the United Kingdom follows GMT+0, which means that Malaysia is 8 hours ahead from the UK. By telling the students how to interpret the time in different formats, they will be able to save time and use it wisely every now and then.

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Moreover, Mathematics plays an important role in healthy lifestyle nowadays. It has became a trend across the globe as most of the people in 21st Century are pursuing healthy lifestyle such as the concerns about their calories intake per meal and body mass index( BMI) . For instance, I used to be very strict toward my calories intake, I counted how much calories I have consumed per meal. In order to calculate accurately, I have to convert the energy units from calorie to kilocalorie, for example, 1 calories equals to 0.001 kilocalories. Therefore, Mathematics takes place in calculating the calories intake. Also, BMI is important for us to determine our overall fitness and the risk of developing chronic diseases. As the equation shown above, that is how BMI is counted by dividing the mass by height. Again, we need Mathematics for the calculation. According to Humanism, students would be intrinsically motivated to learn if the content is related to students themselves. Thus, if students are asked to calculate their own BMI, they then take the responsibility of their own health and it will remind them of the importance of Mathematics in daily life at the same time.

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Last but not least, Mathematics contributes to other careers such as doctors and engineers. Although not all the doctors have to use Mathematics as frequent as engineers do, but they do use complex mathematical equations in order to administer treatment correctly. For example, doctors use mathematics in making decision on the medicine prescriptions and dosages. They use basic arithmetic to calculate what dosage of a particular drug would be appropriate for the patients based on their height and body type. On the other hand, engineers require Mathematics all the time in order to solve equations. For example, engineers get to know the strength of the materials such as iron and steel by Mathematics. Also, Geometry and Coordination are used in the topic of robotics. Therefore, the foundation of Mathematics is essential and crucial for the further education or future career. Other than the examples as pointed out, I will assign students into groups and let them discuss about the importance use of Mathematics in the field of architecture and medicine. It elicits critical thinking in students and they will look things from different perspectives by given this learning activities. With that, students construct their own knowledge and they will have a better connection between prior knowledge and new knowledge.

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In a nutshell, Mathematics is undeniably crucial for everyone. However, students should be told about the importance of Mathematics so that they can relate it to their own. Giving all the examples in real life situation when teaching about a particular topics in Mathematics enhance teaching and learning process and the learning outcomes would be achieved effectively. I am surprised that I have never thought of the importance of Mathematics, but as I listed out all the points, I could clearly understand why there is a need to learn this particular subject. To conclude it all, it is significant that students are not only learning about the content, but they are also learning to adapt in life itself.