Monday, 1 April 2013


1st April 2013 (Monday)

Day 1

You deal with numbers during numerous instances everyday. Have you ever wondered what kind of numbers these are? Nominal? Cordinal? Ordinal? Or neither? Well, I didn't know either, till today. It was interesting how Dr Yeap explained the different uses of numbers and what they are used for, using examples, which include videos, pictures and charts.

Here's a link that shows you the different types of numbers. Click Here!

Dr Yeap, also covered a segment on theories by Vygotsky and Bruner, which were useful in understanding why he used some techniques as a Teacher himself. These include learning in a social setting and teaching using the CPA approach.

Number Games, which Dr Yeap refers to as 'PROBLEMS' are interesting ways to keep his students alert after a long day at work, as they tried their best to figure out the answers. The first problem was easy to solve. For the first time, I was thankful that my name had only 6 letters! The second problem was challenging. I couldn't figure out the answer till he went through one possible way of finding it. It was interesting!

He also pointed out to some mistakes that we could be committing when teaching certain concepts to the children which include ordinal numbers (using a picture at a race) and addition (not using examples of same nouns).

I'm glad to have had a very good start today.

Hope to acquire more in the next five days!


2nd April 2013 (Tuesday)

Day 2

Can you tell me if this circle is big or small? O

Is 6 lesser than 8?

Mommy bought 6 apples and Daddy bought 8 apples. How many apples did they have?

Wonder if this is a Quiz? Kind of...
Attempt to spot the mistakes in the way I phrase or set the these questions before scrolling down!

Which circle is bigger? O or o

Is 6 less than 8?

If Mommy bought 6 apples and Daddy bought 8 apples, how many apples did they buy altogether?

Interesting how I did not know about these mistakes that I have been committing all along. Well, better to know them now than never as I will attempt to correct them gradually.

Today, I learnt a new word "subitize". It refers to making an accurate estimation of a group of things without counting it. This reminded me of a segment of the weekly lesson back when i was working at a right brain development centre. This segment is called "Lightning Rapid Calculation". Children aged 2 and up go through this 63 days dots programme where dot cards are flashed according to the steps given. After 3 cycles of this 63 days dots programme, children can identify any number of dot cards flashed in random order. E.g. When teacher hold up a dot card with 333 dots and another with 334 dots and ask child to tap on the one with 334 dots, the child can do so instantly with 100% accuracy. Amazing isn't it!!

We had two problems today! One was extremely easy as we just had to identify which child bought more bottles and the second game was more challenging as we had to guess the number of paperclips each sealed bottle has using a bottle that has 3 paperclips as a benchmark. It was interesting to see how my coursemates used different techniques to find the answers. It was a good way to learn from each other too! I got 3 out of five 5 correct!

I also learnt about conceptual understanding which is also known as the relational understanding.   Relational understanding is important for children when learning new concepts. Making connections back to what they already know makes it easier for them to understand. therefore, teachers have to make an effort to check for their prior knowledge and help them to make connections to what they already know.

It's the end of the second day! And tomorrow it's QUIZ TIME!! All the best everyone!


3rd April 2013 (Wednesday)

Day 3

Today's lesson was extremely informative that I needed time to process everything in my mind. It rather seemed that way because Dr Yeap covered two broad topics  (fractions and word problems) and took this opportunity to model a few techniques he would use to teach these topics to the children.

According to Dr Yeap, our brain is image-based, which in other words converts all kinds of information including words into images. Children who are unable to do so will develop learning disabilities. Thus, it is important that children are familiar with visuals (visual literacy) and are provided spaces for their physical development. This can be done through art, music and movement and other activities that promotes visual literacy and physical development.

In order to solve word problems, children should be able to 1) handle information, 2) handle complexity and 3) be resilent. Even though, in preschool curriculums, we are not required to cover the topic on word problems, we can get them ready by checking for connections and understandings when concepts are taught to them, providing opportunities for them to deal with tasks of different level of complexity and getting them to persevere challenging tasks by giving them encouragement and building their curiosity.

We carried out about 3 to 4 problems today which includes dividing a rectangular piece of paper into 4 equal parts. I was able to find the 3 most obvious ways but still can't figure out how my classmates got 4 equal triangles by folding the paper.

At around quarter to 10, we began the quiz. It seemed manageable but I'll only know when Dr Yeap reveal the score tomorrow, as I am worried that I might not have phrased my questions and explanations correctly. Well, I shall keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best!

Have a good rest everyone!


4th April 2013 (Thursday)

Day 4

Do you know that you were not BORN clever, but MADE clever? Now you know!

How do you solve 1/2 divided by 3/8?
Would you believe it if I say I had no clue? Actually, the truth is, I forgot how to do division with fractions! But when Dr yeap demonstrated it on the board, I was able to recall.

1/2 divided by 3/8 = 1/2 x 8/3=1 1/3

Today, he covered topics on area, division and multiplication. He mentioned a tip for us to follow when creating division or multiplication word problems. He told us not to divide things amongst people when  giving examples to children in the beginning. You may do so at a later stage instead. Therefore, instead of dividing things amongst people, you may divide the things onto physical objects which include plates, boxes and goodie bags.

When teaching multiplication or any other concepts to children, you can use the CPA approach and also conduct enrichment to extend their learning under the same concept.

Abstracted from Cantonment Primary Math Department Site

Today's problems were fun, especially those on tangrams. I was able to visualize and predict which are the shapes that could be combined inorder to get the same area as a bigger shape. While doing so, I was also able to create figures using the shapes. Can you guess what it is?

Dr Yeap also talked about assimilation and accomodation which are the Complimentary processes of Adaption mentioned in the Model of Intellectual Development. Assimilation refers to trying to incoporate new structures to fit into what one already knows. Whereas, accomodation refers to creating a new structure or modifying the existing structure when one is challenged with something that is conflicting your existing structure. Therefore, as teachers, we should not be too clear with our instructions and should allow children to do accomodation instead through experiences.

Abstracted from "Teachers on Wheels"- Blog

It's Friday tomorrow everyone! Have a fabulous day!


5th April 2013 (Friday)

Day 5

You do not have to be the BEST in the subject to be the BEST teacher teaching it as long as you know the TECHNIQUES.

Today I got to know more about the Perceptual Variability Principle of the Dienes' Theory. Dr Yeap told us to have a variation in the materials we use to teach math concepts to children. These include proportionate and non-proportionate materials. He also mentioned that its better to use proportionate materials for early learners instead of using non-proportionate materials. In addition, it's better to use natural instead of unnatural materials when teaching early learners too. For an example, when teaching "pair" concept, use things that come in pairs (a pair of chopsticks, a pair of glasses, a pair of trousers), when teaching "dozen" concept, use things that come in dozens (a dozen of eggs, a dozen of apples) and when teaching a bundle of 10 items, use things that come in a bundle of 10 (a bundle of 10 sticks, a bundle of 10 straws). You may use unnatural materials (unifix cubes, coloured tiles and etc.) after you introduce the concept using the natural materials.

What do we teach K2 children? Primary 1 syllabus? The answer is NO! Primary 1 syllabus will be covered when they go to Primary 1. Teach what they need to know when they are in K2 with reference to the curriculum framework and curriculum guide. Also, work on improving their social skills, language skills and psycomotor skills as these are not explicitly taught in Primary schools.

Dr Yeap also talked about Van Hiele model (theory that describes how children learn Geometry). Here's a link to know more about his findings. Click Here!

Abstracted from

Today, the problems were really fun to solve, as they were a challenge for our tired minds. The first was to connect 4 dots to create polygons, which we later used to figure out the area in square units. The next was filling in 5 sequential numbers into 5 grids that were arranged in the form of a cross. The numbers should be placed in such a way that when you add the 3 numbers in horizontal direction and the 3 numbers in vertical direction, it gives the same answer. Interesting problems!

Tomorrow is the last day of this module! All the best for the final quiz everyone!


6th April 2013 (Saturday)

Day 6

Today was the last session of the module. Since the session was in the morning, I felt more alert and relaxed today. Dr Yeap covered quite a number of things today which included problems, ways to provide instructions to children, what to consider when planning a lesson and how graphs could be used and taught to children.

Dr Yeap started off the session by showing us a video of his Primary 1 class having a Math lesson. Through this video, I was able to observe him in action in a real classroom setting, and thus, was able to see the childrens' reactions. It was a good opportunity for me to learn a few things that he modeled as a teacher. He encouraged children to share how they got answers to  the problems, encouraged them to spot mistakes they made and correct them without giving any kind of negative feedback, used manipulatives to allow children to visualize better, gave children opportunities to practice what they have learnt and provided differentiated instructions for slow, normal and advanced learners. He also shared that he would show or model first, scaffold, then let children work on their own when teaching concepts (scaffolding, enrichment). Here's a link about Differentiated Instructions. Click Here! 

Abstracted from Instructional Strategies -online

Dr Yeap also mentioned that when we plan lessons, we should think about what we want students to learn, how do we know that they understand, and what if children can or can't grasp the concepts. He also talked briefly about learning strategies. Here' a link that describes a few learning strategies. Click Here!

He also talked about the different types of graphs and which of those are more suitable to be used with preschoolers. Here is a link that has a list of different types of graphs. Click Here!

Oh yes! Not forgetting the quiz. It was much more challenging than the first quiz, but I managed to complete it on time though.

To show our appreciation to Dr Yeap for his guidance throughout this module, we gave him a jar of cookies with a problem to solve. He posed the problem back to us and got us to use different ways to solve it! Hope you love it Dr Yeap! And thanks Marie for the wonderful idea! ;)

Please keep smiling and thank you for teaching us Dr Yeap! See you for the next module!

Take a break dearies! Happy Weekends!


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Pre-Course Reading

Chapter 1

Just like the famous quote in the animated movie 'Rataouille', “Anyone can Cook”, I was inspired almost immediately when I read the phrase “Anyone can learn Mathematics”, in this book entitled “Elementary and Middle School Mathematics”. Like the authors have mentioned, I have heard enormous number of people saying that they hate Math. But, this chapter can be a great tool used to change their mind set and motivate them to learn and grow further in order to support  preschoolers acquire Math concepts.

Measuring their own heights using non-standard units / Develop spatial awareness using geovolumes and blocks
This chapter mentions much about the Principles and standards which isn’t in Singapore context. However, it is useful to know how as a Teacher,  I can use them to plan and carry out a Math curriculum according to local standards mentioned in curriculum guides and frameworks.

Abstracted From the Kindergarten Curriculum Guide- Numeracy

I also had an opportunity to reflect on my teaching as I read through this chapter. I need to improve in many areas which include understanding what my students know and what they need to learn before planning the lessons, getting my children to persevere and attempt challenging tasks instead of giving up easily, using a variety of assessment techniques to assess the children’s progress, using technology for doing and learning mathematics and improving my practices by reading articles, observing more experienced teachers conduct math lessons, and attending conferences.

Chapter 2

Reading familiar names such as Piaget and Vygotsky indeed brought back memories of my days when I did my Diploma. I was able to relate better on how children learn through the Sociocultural theory as I have observed many children improve in their work through social interaction and help from "buddies" (children who have mastered concepts well) or myself which will be removed gradually they become more independent.

Children carrying out tasks with their group mates and buddies

Completing a floor puzzle / Sequencing the zodiac signs

Sorting animals according to their own attributes

Some practices that were mentioned in this chapter are those that I have been carrying out with my students. Examples include, learning from mistakes which provide opportunities to problem solve and clarify, sharing and listening to each others ideas allows them to appreciate and analyze them accordingly, providing opportunities for children to make connections to other concepts or contexts  through discussions or by prompting them with questions, and using tools to support the concept they are learning or have learnt.

Using tools to support concept they have learnt or are learning

Counting using ice-cream sticks/ Creating own patterns using unifix cubes/ Creating figures shown using tangrams

Comparing lengths using pictures / Duplicate the structure shown using coloured blocks/ Addition using pictures

This chapter has also covered the benefits of developing Math proficiency which is something new I have learnt and would like to share with my colleagues on top of other information I am going to learn throughout this module on Elementary Math.


Learning Math as a Student and Teaching Math as a Teacher

I have always had more interest in Math than in any other subjects. I recall learning about numerals, number bonds, graphs, fractions, patterning, algebra, addition and subtraction. I enjoyed counting, sorting, matching, measuring recognizing shapes, creating patterns, drawing diagrams, solving problem sums, calculating using calculators and comparing.  The only segment I do not like about Math is memorizing. Both my parents and teachers forced me into memorizing the times table. Memorizing the formulas and names of shapes were equally challenging for me as a student.
In my secondary school days, I performed extremely well for my E-maths. As a result, the Head of the Math department offered me to take up Additional Math. I was overjoyed indeed but it did not last for too long. I dropped the subject after half a year because of the teacher. She had her focus on students who were performing well and not me who was struggling to catch up as I joined in later. Without guidance and encouragement, I was not able to cope. So I dropped the subject. Nevertheless, my love for Math did not diminish. I practiced a lot and performed well for my E-maths.
These experiences have taught me a couple of things which as a teacher, I should not practice with my children at any point of time: 1) to make my children memorize and 2), to criticize and label them for their weaknesses. Through my experience with compassionate Math teachers,  from learning more during the three year diploma course,  and from observing and analyzing how children learn Math best, I have learnt  ways to develop love for Math amongst the preschoolers at my centre.

According to me, Math is never too difficult to learn or teach as long as you have the guidance, persevearence and a positive attitude to do so.

A Quote to Share...

If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is. 

~John von Neumann~

Thursday, 21 March 2013

When I was Just A Little Girl

When I was just a little girl,
I asked my mother, what will I be?
Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?
And this's what she says to me,
Ambiga, my girl,
What will be, will be,
The future is not ours to see,
Ambiga, my girl,
What will be, will be...

...and I became a Preschool Teacher.