Monday, 23 July 2012

What Have I Learnt?

Honestly, I have never enjoyed Maths but this week-long sessions have totally changed how I look at and understand Maths. There was hardly a dull moment during class and I throughly enjoyed the whole experience. Dr Yeap is an excellent teacher of Mathematics! I wish my Maths teachers taught Maths like how he did and I wouldn't have hated the subject and struggled with it throughout my schooling days.

To wrap up what we have learnt throughout the week, here are the 3 main ideas of what I've learnt:

1. C-P-A Approach: 
Start introducing math concepts to children by using concrete materials to pictorial to abstract.

2. As Early Childhood teachers, we have to be careful with the Mathematics language we use with children as it might affect how they learn and understand Maths as they go into higher level.

3. Teaching children to VISUALIZE is extremely important! This is where I am totally lacking in and have to improve on personally.

Some questions I want to find out:

1. Will there be trainings or workshops for early childhood teachers to be introduced to the new primary 1 syllabus so that they have an idea what will be taught in primary school and be able to prepare the children with relevant skills/concepts?

2. Should the Mathematics syllabus be standardized throughout Singapore so as to prevent pre-school teachers from under-teaching or over-teaching the child  before he goes to Primary 1?

"Mathematics is an excellent vehicle to develop and improve a person's intellectual competence"

Number Bonds

Number Bonds? Truth to be told, I don't recall being taught this concept when I was younger. Only when I upgraded and expanded my Mathematics knowledge, I learnt and put this concept into use. Or maybe I was not interested in Math at that time and don't remember a thing...

Anyway, in Tuesday's class, Dr Yeap mentioned that one of the big ideas in Whole Numbers is Number Bonds. It is an important idea as it helps to develop number sense. I agree that using ten frames is an excellent way to teach children number bonds. I use two coloured counters and a ten frame with the K2 children in my class. I'm glad that the children are able to grasp the idea and understand the concept of it. :)

Use of Technology in Classrooms

I used to teach in an educational IT company which provides classes for pre-schoolers 
using their own developed curriculum software. It is weekly enrichment programme 
where an integrated curriculum is carried out using educational technology. 
The children really looked forward and were very attentive during lessons. 
The feedback received from parents and their own class teachers were also positive. 

For me, I advocate for the use of technology in classrooms as we need to 
move forward and not backward! Using technology in a classroom is definitely something 
we should do to keep up with the rapid changing world. Children nowadays are 
very tech-savvy; iPhone, iPad, laptop, digital camera are some of the tech toys 
the are very familiar with. 

So why not use these as supporting tools to aid in their learning?

Sunday, 22 July 2012

TODAYonline | World | What finger counting says about you and your brain

TODAYonline | World | What finger counting says about you and your brain

This is interesting! When someone tells you to count to 10 with your finger which finger did you start of with? According to this study, your finger counting technique varies from which part of the world you came from. Not only that, the study found out that "young children with good finger awareness are better at performing quantitative tasks than those with less finger sense". 

Hmmm... Do you agree with this? 

Monday, 16 July 2012

Chapter 1 & 2 Reflections

Maths? That is the last subject I look forward to when I was in my schooling days. It was my most hated subject and that caused me to do poorly in this subject. However, as I enter the Early Childhood field, I started to realise how truly important this subject is. As I reflected upon why I hated this subject, it all boils down to the lack of motivation and the way how the subject was being taught which bore me. My role as a teacher in the classroom is so important that what I do or say will somewhat influence a child. So, I told myself that I didn't want my students to have the same negative mindset in mathematics as me thus I made myself to change and look at mathematics positively now. I was glad that this was being mentioned in the book, Elementary and Middle School Mathematics. In Chapter 1, under the sub-topic of Becoming a Teacher of Mathematics, it stated that you need these in order to succeed as a teacher of mathematics:

  • Knowledge of Mathematics
  • Persistence
  • Positive Attitude
  • Readiness for Change
  • Reflective Disposition

As I read chapter 2, I remembered how mathematics was being taught during my school days. It was mainly rote learning and completing countless assessment books. I realized that I was not well-equiped with strategies to solve the problems and struggled once the question was being paraphrased. I totally agree with the book that,

"Mathematics is more than completing sets of exercises or mimicking processes the teacher explains. Doing mathematics means generating strategies for solving problems, applying those approaches, seeing if they lead to solutions, and checking to see whether your answers makes sense. Doing mathematics in classrooms should closely model the act of doing mathematics in the real world."

I realize how much we use mathematics in our daily lives without even us realizing it. When we wake up, read the time, estimate how long we need to rush to get ready for work, when we pour milk into our cup and make sure it doesn't spill, when we go shopping, constantly on the look out for sales and check on the discounts and making mental calculations in our head on the discounted price of an item. Almost everything that we know has to do with Maths, it might not be directly involved but maths helped create it.

That why when learning maths, children should be given hands-on and concrete experiences. A proper classroom environment should also be created and constantly using mathematical language with the children such as using words like compare, predict, solve etc. Using these words will lead to opportunities for children to use their higher-level thinking and encompass "making sense" and "figuring out". They will also be able to actively think about the mathematical ideas involved.