By Sembawang Secondary School
The objective of the programme is to make the learning of computer applications (CPA) more authentic and meaningful to Normal (Technical) students. The programme also aims to infuse the school values of Excellence, Commitment, Integrity and Teamwork, or ExCITe in short.
In alignment with the broader objectives of creating a more learner-centered environment (LCE) and putting Teach Less, Learn More (TLLM) into practice, the CPA teachers experimented with the idea of replacing standard exercises in the textbooks with real life situations for all Sec 1 to Sec 3 N(T) students.
If students are excited with what they are doing, they will learn better. Based on this belief, a project task was designed not only to meet instructional objectives, but also to enthuse students to manifest their innovative and creative talents. National Education (NE) elements were also imbedded in the activities as it coincided with the National Day celebration period.
The project started during the June holidays when the CPA teachers brainstormed ways to inject more fun in the learning of CPA, without compromising on the accomplishment of instructional objectives. Essentially the programme was about giving students a project task to compete in a time frame of about a month in Term 3. Each level was anchored by a main CPA teacher who would set the project task. The students were given the theme of producing a commemorative virtual product to celebrate the nation’s 40th birthday.
When students were told that they were given the trust to produce whatever they wanted, they were very excited to showcase their talents. Some groups were not comfortable with opened ended tasks and this was where the teachers stepped in to provide guidance. Students in groups of four were free to propose, produce, promote and present their products in any format of their choice to their ‘fussy’ clients – their teachers. Gaining approval from their clients was no easy task as they needed to convince them why their product was the best and their whole design process was sound. At the teachers’ end, they ensured that the instructional objectives would be met before granting the ‘go ahead’ to their students.
Along the way, students also discovered for themselves, the importance of teamwork, respecting and accommodating to the differences within the group. Many surprised their ‘clients’ with their determination and commitment to excellence. Many explored functionalities in software on their own accord and they shared with their teammates their new knowledge. When students were excited, there was no stopping them to want to discover for themselves the variant methods of improving the look of their products. The teachers functioned as facilitators to ensure that all are on track and challenge the better teams to perform better.
After two to three weeks, students were excited to showcase their works to their clients as well as to their competitors. Competition was keen and it was hard for the client to pick the best project. The students become even more excited when they were told to vote for the best. The value of integrity was explained to them prior to casting their votes – electronically via the Classroom Performance System (CPS).
In conclusion, the programme was a success. Students enjoyed the whole process and at the same time, the instructional objectives were met. More importantly, there were other intangible benefits that were derived from this refreshing initiative.
Lee Kah Siong Jimmy (HOD/IT)
A Webpage for Every Teacher
The objective of this programme is to promote online learning as a means to complement classroom teaching and learning. This initiative also aims to promote a culture of ‘Teach Less, Learn More’ (TLLM) by having resources on the web on an ‘on demand’ basis.
With computing facilities and information becoming readily available, schools have to keep up with this global trend. Students are very comfortable with web navigation and are able to retrieve information anytime, anywhere. Teachers, on the other hand, prepare their presentations, worksheets and other teaching materials in softcopies. By placing these resources on the web, students would be able to access them when the need arises.
The programme started with the IT department coming up with a process to capture the good works of the teachers. The school server was prepared to temporarily host the resources prior to uploading onto the Internet. Each teacher gets a standard homepage template and some server space - a folder - where they can store what they intend to upload. Uploading onto the school’s internet website is done weekly by the school webmaster.
A training session was conducted during one of our Contact Time where all teachers were briefed on the intent of this initiative. Teachers who needed more help were given a hands-on session where they were taught more than just the basics of web design. They were delighted to see that the resources that they brought along with them during the session went up to the Internet in a matter of a few mouse clicks! For the more IT savvy teachers, they were encouraged to provide links to their personal homepages and other web based resources.
This system is particularly useful during the school holidays as the teachers’ sites became an important platform for teaching and learning – in this case outside the confines of the school, anytime, anywhere.
In conclusion, this system has served the needs of most of our staff and students. Everyone was strongly encouraged to come on board and the IT Comm continues to provide assistance to those who needed it and made sure that no one was left behind. For the more savvy ones, they have ventured into more elaborate means of online learning, while maintaining a link from the school web. The school web has evolved from its humble one page info site to a learning portal where staff and students can be proud of.
Lee Kah Siong Jimmy (HOD/IT)
Lim Swee Leong Andrew (SH/ICT)