Thursday, August 25, 2005

quick reflections on microteaching

I've been skimming through the posts by my wonderful class and some of the main points were:

1. my shakiness. Yup, I'm usually shaking at the beginning of a class cos I haven't warmed up yet. Or rather, I'm shaky throughout the class sometimes...

2. my temper. I never really lost my temper, believe me! Maybe I exaggerate a lot in my acting or something, but I never ever really lose my temper at a class. Maybe I learned this from my dad! Bad, bad. I'll keep this in mind.

3. my sarcasm. Oops, I lost control of that again. Those who know me in real life know that I already tend to be quite sarcastic very often. I really have to keep a tight rein on that...

Other points: photos etc. Those photos were what I could come up with on short notice; I thought I would have more time to prepare but was caught off guard by an unexpected assignment from another module. So I just printed out the pics on photo paper with my inkjet. Apologies for the unclear photos...

And the Flash presentation didn't go too well - didn't get the attention of the class like I hoped, and the back buttons I so painstakingly put in somehow refused to work. Oh well. Better luck next time!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Flash experiment...

The only time I've ever used Flash was for a Year 1 presentation in NUS! Now I've forgotten all my Flash skills! But I did manage to churn out a very simple presentation for tomorrow. Nothing that Powerpoint can't do, no audio or fancy animations, but if it turns out well tomorrow, I'll feel better about adding in other cool stuff in using Flash in actual classroom teaching.

I have a few thoughts regarding SW's wonderful microteaching session last week, but I think I'll voice them in class tomorrow instead... simply been too busy to blog long entries!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

microteaching session today...

So today was the second session of microteaching, by our resident karst expert and our Geobabe. *g* Before I start, let me just put a disclaimer that everything I say here is NOT personal and I don't mean to seem like comparing the two of you, even though I suspect that I'll end up sounding that way... I know different people have different teaching styles.

Anyways. First we had LY's lesson, in which she heroically took on the daunting task of dumbing down karst landscapes to our ignorant Sec 3 level. It wasn't a bad job, given the topic, but I think karst is taught at JC level for two reasons: 1) it's mind-numbingly cheeem. Joints, bedding planes, pervious rocks, waaaah. 2) because it's so mind-numbingly cheem, it requires a lot of teacher-to-student type interaction. I like how you gave us rock samples to examine, but I think it wouldn't have been clear to a sec 3's muddled mind how that little piece is related to what you were telling us. Maybe you could have linked it to your Powerpoint slides somehow?

For class management, I like how you threatened to take our ezlink cards. But after that, you didn't come across (at least to me) as being very firm with your threat. You kept saying "one more time and I'll confiscate it" but you didn't. And having our ezlink cards on the table did create opportunities for all sorts of mischief involving theft of cards etc. Maybe the threat alone would have been enough without asking us to take out our cards?

Other than that, I think you really did try hard, although with such heavy going, I think students are bound to get restless and bored. Especially if they've been having lessons without breaks! XD I mean, you know lah. Sorry if I kept yawning, I assure you I wasn't doing it on purpose, or trying to be a bad student or anything... I was honestly, truly tired!

Regarding YZ's session, I was quite surprised and impressed. Having known her for one year, I never figured she could sound so stern and firm! Also I really liked the props. Man, since I'm doing the mountain-building after you, I'm stressed to keep up the good work! The only thing I might have some problem with is your handling of Wes's "asthma attack". It's partly the class's fault that we didn't give you a realistic scenario to work with, but if this was the first time Wes was having an attack, I think the class would be in an uproar, especially if an ambulance had to be called. But I honestly think you shouldn't have given the permission for the ambulance to be called. Isn't there a school nurse for this kind of thing? I mean... after all we are teachers, I think it's just not for us to decide if a student needs an ambulance or not, especially if the student is no longer in the classroom for us to monitor and if there are 39 other students just waiting for an excuse to go and "kaypoh" the situation.

yeah, I think that's it for now... those were the major points I wanted to bring up. Man, you guys are setting such high standards for your microteaching, I'm feeling pressured to keep up! *g*

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The power of freeware

Following something that was mentioned in the geog lesson on Friday, some of you might have met this scenario in your secondary schools (which happened to my poor CT, not once but TWICE):

- you want to show a video (VCD) to the class
- the sysadmin in your school is not doing his job and your media player doesn't work
- everybody knows you need to update the media player but you don't have admin access
- you stand there for the whole period looking for an alternative media player while the class goes completely out of hand yelling "Use Quicktime!" "Realplayer!" "Download another media player, lah!" and other such helpful comments.

After those episodes, I went to look for a nice small freeware player for emergencies like this. I recommend that all of you keep this handly little program in your thumb/flash drives:

It doesn't need to be installed so you can run it straight from your thumbdrive, therefore bypassing the admin access problem. It can play AVI, MPEG, MP3, VCD and DVD. However I couldn't find any small MOV player... that format is irritatingly non-cross-player-friendly (whatever the term). Also I dunno if this program works on Macs...

This is really very very very helpful with the technical logistics aspect so do keep it with you.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Stuff on my mind

Okay, here I am freezing in the NIE library computer centre an hour before the last lesson of the week... which of course happens to be geography. We're starting our microteaching stuff today... wonder how it'll be like?

Before that however, I just want to reflect on (this is a mirror, after all) the whole podcasting thing of yesterday's lesson. I just want to make it clear that I think podcasting sounds exciting so far, despite my own fidgeting and slouching yesterday - a bad habit when I'm agitated about something. In this case I was a little annoyed by the emphasis on using the iPod and the iBook (no offense to Mac lovers). Here are my reasons:

  • Most of us don't own a Mac, much as we may be tempted to. It would have been helpful to go through some programs that are Windows-friendly as well (besides the cross-platform iTunes, of course).

  • Most schools still don't use Macs. I know my secondary school has yet to have a Windows system that works properly, much less a Mac. -_- Oh, I know the Mac-niacs (?) will probably say Macs are more stable, and yes that may be true, but the fact remains that many schools are still locked into Windows.

  • Even when using a Mac, as far as I know you can just buy a cheap clip-on or PC mike and plug it straight into the computer and record into that... right? so no need to transfer back and forth between the computer and the iPod.

  • Garageband looked like an exciting application, but I have come across it before and as far as I know, it is exclusively for Macs.

  • Podcasts were presented as being targetted at Creative and iPod users only, but as far as I know, can't older-fashioned users burn MP3s to CDs to listen to on their ancient CD players? Would this technology then seem so new, or irrelevant, since educational tapes and CDs have been around for decades?

  • ... well, that's basically why I didn't feel very impressed with what looked to me like a 3-hour advertisement for Macs... *grins*

    All that petty stuff aside though, I think podcasts do sound quite interesting. I think I'll have a lot of fun with this stuff, and students are always interested in such new things. As was mentioned, though, so far it seems more useful for language teaching. Geography is about the world around us, so it doesn't seem very relevant at first to a subject that emphasises so much on fieldwork. I only have one suggestion: since users are likely to be listening to the podcasts while travelling, they are already out in the field. So we must try and make them aware of that fact in our podcasts.

    But as I mentioned elsewhere, I do wish we could be taught how to make diagrams and videos and other 3D stuff for geography with those cool 3D rendering programs. That would really catch students' attention! *grins*

    Saturday, August 06, 2005

    First entry

    Hey hey! I created this blog just for the NIE experience. Which means there will be more shameless rambling about my teaching than I usually write down.

    If you guys reading this wanna comment, go right ahead - I enabled guest comments. Just do try to identify yourself... Feel free to criticise or comment or whatever if you do.

    - wen