downward spirals, upward spirals

a second consecutive post on Benjamin Zander. below’s a video on Zander’s sharing his teaching philosophy “the art of possibility”. saw it many times in the past, and can’t help but to feel rekindled by Zander each time i watch this video 🙂

extending some thoughts from the video, our education system is built on the downward spirals, and how learning can be transformed if learning is built upon upward spirals. let’s take how (un)well students are learning CL as an example.

the downward spirals talks include:

how would the worldview change if we were to frame all these thoughts into one main sentence:


similarly, all the above downward talks can be reframed:




“We give students an A not as an expectation to live up to. We give students an A as a possibility to live into.”

这个思维的转变是非常关键的。不然又要落入downward spirals中,不得超生。

the video:

some other quotes that caught my attention are captured here:

“When you give an A, the relationship is transformed.”

“We don’t give children a name as an expectation to live up to. We give children a name as a possibility to live into… We give students an A not as an expectation to live up to. We give students an A as a possibility to live into.”

“it’s “cosmic laughter” … The A is invented, the 68 is invented. We might as well invent something that lights up our lives, and the people around us.”

“In Asia it is important to be right. The teacher is always right… and a young girl said ‘If you don’t say anything, you won’t ever be wrong.”

“You cannot learn anything unless you make a mistake. When you make a mistake, this is how you celebrate…”

“The downward spirals …”

“A Vision, is not something only a few can reach. A Vision, is something that everyone can reach.”

“Everybody loves classical music. They just haven’t found out about it yet.” (vs. Only 3% of pple love classical music. If only 4% of pple love classical music, all our problems would be over.)

“It’s all invented. Standing in possibilities. Rule #6. That’s it. Simple.”


designing ICT-integrated lessons with TPACK

thanks to colleagues at CPDD, our article written for CL teachers, by CL teachers is now published (:


the Chinese title reads 《基于TPACK的华文资讯科技教学设计思路》. in essence, the short article promotes the idea of considering TPACK when designing ICT-integrated CL lessons. teachers may adopt any starting point in their design, whether it’s content, pedagogy, or technology. suggestions are given in the article so that TPACK, which is essential for the design to facilitate learning in students, is considered. teachers would also be constructing their own TPACK during this design process. the pdf can be downloaded from the local mirror:

陈育焕、张永慧 (2015). 基于TPACK的华文资讯科技教学设计思路。华文老师,59, 32-36.

it is also appropriate for us to express our thanks to Si Hui for her invaluable comments to our draft here. the acknowledgement wordings (本文承蒙林思慧老师(目前为西澳大学博士生)为初稿提出宝贵的批评与建议,谨此特致谢忱。) were removed when the article was published.

and last but not least, here’s the high-res translated TPACK in Chinese 中文/华文 diagram for download, in case any fellow CL teachers would like to use it in their work, there’s no need to recreate the wheel (:

150322-TPACK translated to Chinese

thanks to for making the original diagram for free distribution (:

teaching in the 21st century video

this piece of prezi presentation turned up in my fb history this morning. it was an item from my timeline 3 yrs ago. the presentation captured thought leaders’ ideas on what teaching and learning is about in the 21st century classroom:

the ideas are from 2010, and 5 yrs later, how much has our (CL) classroom changed?

thank you fb for having this neat, surprising history feature (:

flipped teaching sharing – recap and thoughts

had the chance to attend a 学思达翻转教学讲座 held at pei chun 培群小学 yesterday. 总算有机会一睹叶丙成老师的个人风采。
as i have heard how impressed some teachers were in the sessions they’ve attended last year, i thought it’ll be good for me to do a recap of what i heard. cos as effective presenter/teacher, we do update/morph our sharing content from time to time.

for a start, the title of the talk may be misleading for audience who has prior knowledge of flipped learning, or flipped classroom. as an audience, the workshop appears to be 学思达教学讲座。the “翻转” part appears to adopt a different set of ideals from this.

as i have not had the chance to step into a taiwan classroom, the beginning part of the talk lent me a quick overview of taiwan’s classrooms. i was quite surprised to hear that an extremely high % of classroom adopts highly teacher-centered approach from a pedagogical perspective. if so, the 学思达 approach would definitely be refreshing from a student’s perspective, as they now had chance to engage in active participation, instead of listening and falling asleep.

two basic arguments for engaging students’ in activities and reducing listening were presented: 1. the Learning Pyramid, 2. speed of reading outstrips speed of narration (thus listening) by a few folds. however, it is interesting to note that the National Training Laboratories, commonly credited as the source, refuted claim that the diagram was from them (ref 1, ref 2). and of course, we could always find arguments against the learning pyramid too.

the underlying philosophy of 学思达 approach remains as the teacher is the expert, the know-all. as a result, lesson preparation for 学思达 approach is highly taxing on the teacher (but not impossible even for a 1-man team as 叶丙成老师 has proven). this may be partly due to the fact that 学思达 approach believes that the teacher has to source as much relevant/useful information for students as possible so that their classroom activities would be meaningful.

学思达 approach engages students’ in active participation through discussions to find answers, and later to engage in competitive presentations. marks, assigned to groups, are used as the primary motivator. #iwonder how would things turn out if marks, as an emphasis due to the competitive element, are later removed. perhaps it could still work cos in 3-6 mths’ time, students should be attracted by the learning from the highly engaging lessons.

there is a brief recap of the history of flipped classrooms, how Khan Academy comes about, and how Taiwan, following Khan’s footsteps, have adopted the ideas 2 years ago. but it is not obvious to me how this part is linked, or relevant to 学思达 approach. for the after-class component in “翻转”, 学思达 does not advocate the use of videos; it probably falls back to the textbooks(?), and the highly detailed and customised 讲义 created by the teacher.

学思达 is good if your classroom/teaching meets the following criteria:
1. you used mainly teacher-centered (i speak, u listen; i ask, u answer; otherwise quiet) pedagogy.
2. your students are mainly motivated by marks (not learning, yet.)
3. you would like to explore more grouping strategies (beyond think-pair-share, convenient grouping)

学思达 probably wont be too attractive to you if:
1. you are comfortable and effective in facilitating group work/cooperative learning/collaborative learning
2. you want to shift away from spoon-feeding your students (not necessarily just in class)
3. you want students to be(come) the creator/curator of knowledge

will need to find time to look at the books, and return to update more ideas later (:

reimagining teaching …

while browsing through the NMC Horizon report K-12 2015 report released just two days ago, another report “Reimagining Teaching in a Blended Classroom” prepared by TNTP mentioned on pg.20 grabbed my attention instead.

as my current work led me into exploring blended learning for teachers’ PD, i put on a teachers’ PD lens too while reading. i think “REIMAGINING” is appropriately chosen. the very conception of learning, teaching, and even classroom needs to be re-visited.

while some teachers are jumping (bravely? blindly?) onto the flipped classroom bandwagon, i believe this report may draw parallel lessons on why “flipping” works for some teachers, and not all, yet. for instance, the traditional roles of a teacher can be classified into 3 types: guide, integrator, researcher & developer (p.2-3). such a proposal of roles brings in the opportunity for teachers to collaborate, specialise, and/or develop professionally. as the report pointed out, for blended learning to work (or flipped learning if one prefers), the whole staffing needs is going to be different. in our system, i imagine the need to (re)develop teachers in various competencies to take on 1, 2, or all 3 roles concurrently. in order for blended/flipped learning to be sustainable, a whole-department (or even a whole school) approach is the way to go. as i draw on my short 1-year experience in introducing blended PD, i can imagine it could be overwhelming for many teachers, if one were to work alone. taking on all 3 roles at one go is going to be an extremely steep learning curve.

but before we could talk about getting it going, are teachers ready for the reimagined roles? it’s definitely not going to make life easier for any teacher (change itself is already a painful process; learning is a slow and time-consuming process; and coupled with the reality that ICT in teaching & learning is not just about efficiency). fundamental shift in a teacher’s beliefs (esp. epistemic) is needed. teachers need to reexamine their assumptions of their own teaching, and their students’ learning.

i would think this is a report that all teachers who intend to introduce flipped learning as part of their teaching & learning activities must read. it provides much food for thought.

how exciting (:

150701-tntp-reimaging teaching