Friday, October 22, 2010

What is that we teach less of?

Reflection 6
21st October 2010

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” Plutarch

Today’s lesson clearly illustrated the above quotation. We started the lesson with a problem using tiles. We were asked to use the triangular tiles to make various shapes, some of which were parallelograms, trapeziums, rhombuses. Assuming that the length of each side was 3cm, we had to find the perimeter of the shapes formed. From here, we progressed to find the number of tiles required to form a perimeter of 93 cm. It was evident that the nature of the problem had become more challenging and we had to look for patterns, visualise the formation, and do quite a fair bit of meta-cognition.

Similarly, the next problem on Structures, illustrated how we can modify a question that looks at regular pattern formation to one that has a combination of pattern to look out for. This brings to light the emphasis on what is the little that we must teach in TLLM. We need to equip our pupils with skills such as looking for patterns as a human, form certain generalisations, logical reasoning, consider certain conditions to synthesis new learning and provide them an environment where they can consider taking risks when they are learning complex things. We should not only pay attention to the final answer, but also analyse the way in which we can sharpen the pupils’ intellectual competencies. This is the critical role we play as teachers apart from just teaching concepts which can be easily picked up from books or the internet. The scaffolding provided by the teacher is important as it covers the fundamentals of the learning theories advocated by Lev Vygotsky when the ZPD is bridged. Socratic Questioning helps in probing deeper into the problem by getting one to think through and reflect on our meta-cognitive process.

Final problem for the day: How can we find the area of a circle? Jerome Brunner’s theory of touching the materials to embody the concepts that has to be learnt shows how this can be derived. We formed shapes we can find the area of, using the circle cut out, to deduce the area of the circle. The following outcomes of PERI were skilfully crafted into the lesson: Learning by inquiry, learning by interacting, learning by doing, and learning by reflecting. This will definitely bring about more engagement in learning as the pupils will be able to relate their experiences of the learning tasks to new and novel situations. That’s what learning is all about!

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