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.