idea improvement and CL learning

two days ago, met my 老师 for a little chat. and we came upon the topic of knowledge creation (k/c) in learning of CL — how does it look like?

assuming we were to use knowledge building (kb) pedagogy (Scardamalia & Bereaver, 2006) as the guide, ‘idea improvement’ would be a basic tenet. so what does idea improvement look like in CL? what is an idea in CL to begin with?

老师 recalled in the past, CL teachers in his 802 class have had problem reconciling CL and idea improvement. this is an observation, and to me, it’s also a phenomenon. what is the reason behind this phenomenon? we have to perhaps understand what is CL teaching and/or learning to CL teachers? just four days earlier, we were having lunch with a very senior and experienced CL teacher, and he said “有不少华文老师觉得怎样才能学好华文?” the answer is Beethoven the musician (背多分).

Beethoven (背多分) to me reflects CL teachers’ personal epistemology. sadly, it’s tended towards the naive end. what do you 背? naturally, it’s existing knowledge. existing knowledge by who? experts, authority, 前辈,etc. if knowledge created by experts have a higher value, this indicates ‘experts’ exist (cf. omniscient authority). if an authority exists, what is the chance of CL teachers expecting students, who are just beginning to learn and are generally having low CL proficiencies, be creating knowledge? not to mention 尊师重道、长幼有序 is inherent in Confucius’ teachings. one is expected to respect the authority, and accept the 千年累计流传下来的知识。 背,才会有多分。背得越多,得分越多。Hail Beethoven!

following my interpretation of these CL teachers’ personal epistemology, an ‘idea’ would be knowledge that’s been passed down from some authority. would there be a need to improve such an idea? it’s effectively asking these teachers to question the music Beethoven has written 🙂

if we were to encounter another group of CL teachers who possess more sophisticated epistemic beliefs, what would an ‘idea’ be in CL per se? perhaps we can look at what can be created, or are created in language classroom/lessons? yes, literary-related creations, e.g. written compositions, essays, poems, novels, etc. these are creations at a 篇-level. if it’s too ‘big’, we can always reduce the scope and create 段、句、词、字 instead for learners at different levels. assuming each of these could be an ‘idea’, what would idea improvement look like? what would kb discourse be about? yes, i would think it would be about these building blocks in their respective creations, individual or group work. why do student (or group) A choose to use this adjective in his/her sentence? why do student B think that student A’s choice could be improved; justify why, and the ‘improved’ choice? such idea improvement talk can occur at all levels – 字、词、句、段、篇, and related linguistics ideas would inevitably be brought in during the discourse (for e.g. 修辞、语义、段落、篇章结构). if the creation is oral instead of written, ideas of 语音、语速、语调 could be added.

so, perhaps if a CL teacher were to ask me “is knowledge creation possible in CL learning/teaching?” i would probably say “let’s examine your personal epistemology(‘s sophistication) first” 🙂

knowledge creation photoacknowledgement: Photo by woodleywonderworks

hearing a flipped primary CL classroom example

had the chance to meet up with fellow teacher Evelyn, and to hear her share abt her experience in flipping her P4 CL class. she had recorded a series of 24 videos (that included ppt slides, and videos) to get things going at the start. students are tasked to watch one video a week, as it coincides with one lesson a week. it was slow to get things going at first, cultivating students the habit of watching the videos weekly. “they were so used to the standard way of teaching/learning since P1, P2 & P3”, and now students are required to do something that’s very different from the past.

having the videos (prepared using Camtasia) allowed Evelyn time to engage students in more interactions in class. she designed games to engage her students. but in order to participate in the games, students learnt that they need to watch the videos beforehand. homework is done in class, so students do not have to do homework after school.

based on what i heard, i believe what Evelyn has done laid good foundation to free up classroom teaching time, which won’t go away any time soon in a school’s factory-style set up, especially during foundation years at primary level. looking forward to the day to attend a lesson in the classroom to see how discourse is taking place with such an implementation.

if the possibilities to explore alternative/more classroom discourse doesnt excite you, “我的最差的学生从前拿24分,最近拿了一个40分。” (out of 45), any results-oriented teacher could be persuaded somewhat to the very least i presume? 😛

epistemological beliefs, language learning beliefs

《新加坡中学生的认识论信念、华文学习信念探究》(An Exploratory Study of the Epistemological Beliefs and Language Learning Beliefs of Singapore Secondary School Chinese Language Students), that is the topic of my dissertation close to 5 yrs ago **gasp** 一晃快5年了。

while a search some 3 yrs ago revealed that my writing can be found in CNKI 知网,but i did not realise it’s not available for download through the Storeroom. so here you go, a local mirror, if you are interested that is (:

angry bird and Chinese Language

have been playing angry birds since gotten my droid last oct, and am always impressed by the many physics within. chanced upon this post “Using Angry Birds to teach math, history and science“, and i thought why not let’s have a list for “Using Angry Birds to teach Chinese Language”, and here’s some powder and smoke:

– 学生必须玩过angry birds,否则教师可想方设法让学生在课上,或课后玩过angry birds

听说 Listening-Speaking
– 让学生听不同版本的angry birds 音乐、或音效,然后让他们回忆并复述该音乐、音效属于游戏的哪个部分并象征什么意义 (听、说)
– 让学生假扮销售员,当堂兜售angry birds游戏,说服观众为什么一定要玩angry birds (说)
– 可让其他学生复述上述活动中,同学所说的内容,同时锻炼听和说的能力 (听、说)
– 让学生辩论angry birds及其他受欢迎的游戏,例如Mega jump、Fruit Ninja等。
– 若要配合ICT,上述活动可配合audioblog, podcast, 任何录音平台,甚至是VoiceThread、Glogster等进行

读写 Reading-Writing
– 制定阅读有关angry birds的篇章,并配合阅读微技的训练,设计理解问答
– 让学生上网搜寻有关angry birds的文章,例如游戏指南,玩后感等,然后写一篇综合报告,整理并总结所见到的内容
– 让学生写一封电邮或一篇说明文,介绍angry birds游戏及其玩法,或是闯关秘笈walkthrough
– 让学生写一篇记叙文,述说一次和亲友一起玩angry birds相关的经历
– 让学生假设本校将主办一次玩angry birds游戏的比赛,写邀请函邀请参赛,或给赞助商赞助活动
– 若要配合ICT,上述活动可配合blog, wiki, discussion forum, linoit等进行
– 除了独自进行活动,也可让学生分组进行协作学习collaborative learning (CoL)

感觉好像还可以衍生很多其他的活动,改次再写吧 😛

voicethread, re-reviewing

it’s been EXACTLY 3 years since i last chanced upon voicethread (VT), and now there arises a chance that i can possibly work more closely with the tool and conduct a research around it.

but before proceeding further, it’s important to me to (re)explore VT on it’s features and functionalities so as to inform the guide that we need to provide students, especially the potential pitfalls.

1. unicode / simplified chinese character support
back then, unicode is not supported within the commenting feature. now it’s working, comments can be keyed in in Chinese

2. import doc type
this is an extension of the unicode support problem. in terms of document file types, DOC, DOCX, PDF are ok. but when chinese characters are typed within, the level of compatibility is different. microsoft word doc gives on average 1 MISSING chinese character for every 6 characters; word docX gives on average 1 for every 2. VT is not to be blamed here, it is micro$oft’s propietary doc format specification causing the problem. when PDF import is used, it gives perfect rendition. so now we all know who’s truly supporting a more open standard. my experimentation goes here.

3a. no. of VTs for free accts
in a zero budget project, we’ll be asking students to create their own VT accts. however, each FREE acct can only produce three (3) VTs. this could pose a serious limitation if students are expected to produce numerous assignments over time.

3b. no. of VTs for
if more than 3 VTs’ to be created, the K-12 Class subscription will allow up to 100 students to be enrolled, enabling them to create up to 50 VTs each. the subscription stands at USD60/year.

that’s all for now, will add more discoveries as i go along (: