Monthly Archives: June 2010

No more Primary 1 examinations in sixteen schools. More to follow?

 stressed by exams?

In Singapore, major examinations have been a mainstay in our academic system from Primary 1 all the way up to tertiary levels. No doubt that examinations is the most common method to assess a student’s ability or knowledge in a particular subject at a particular level, but is it the most effective way to grade our young ones based on these twice yearly major exams?

Many different ways of assessing students’ learning progress and grasp of concepts accurately have been brought forward by academics over the years. Feedback have also been given from parents, pupils and educators regarding the “over-emphasis” on major examinations. As the education system and the way people view raw test scores from examinations evolves, there is therefore a need for us to explore and design new assessment tools that complements holistic learning. A good way to start is from the Primary 1 level where students transit from kindergardens to their first step of formal education in schools. And this is exactly what the MOE is currently embarking on by doing away with Primary 1 examinations in sixteen “testbed” schools.

Holistic development is especially important in a child’s formative years which generally is during her time in a Primary School. Under a less stressful environment, students can develop communication skills, learn to freely express their creativity and explore different areas of interest that they might have not discovered. The focus is much more on learning, developing and exploring which are beneficial instead of being bogged down by the pressure to score in major examinations at the beginning of a child’s formal education. 

On the other hand, as a parent you could also be concerned about whether is there sufficient time for the child to prepare for PSLE. Also, with a change in learning environment,  pedagogies that are suitable for holistic learning and assessment have to evolve too. Educators, both teachers and tutors alike will have to adapt to the change in order to bring the initiative forward. And this takes time too, which is a challenge.

What do you think? Should more schools follow in doing away Primary 1 major examinations? Share with us your view by taking part in the poll below!


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How do you prepare your child well for PSLE Maths?

If your child is in Primary 6 this year and is going to take the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) in just a few months time, you should have heard of how past years’ PSLE Mathematics paper have been so challenging and mind-boggling  for students. 

With the introduction of the calculator and algebra into the Primary 6 Mathematics syllabus in recent years, the PSLE Mathematics standard has been raised considerably compared to 10 years ago. Not only do students have to pick up another skill to use the calculator wisely and appropriately(you will be surprised how some students use their calculators), they have to learn not to lose focus on their fundamental arithmetic skills while tackling the famous PSLE Problem Sums. 

So in the midst of remedial lessons in school, preliminary examinations and of course tutorials, how do you prepare your child well for PSLE Maths? 

Firstly, we would recommend setting a clearly-defined goal or grade to achieve. Set a realistic goal and always aim high. If you ask your child what grade does he or she wants and you get the answer “I dunno..” instead of “I’m working hard to get an A!” You probably should start thinking about fixing this first. 

Secondly, in general students at different level of proficiency will require different approaches. Hence the strategies a personal home tutor, or you as a parent could map out for your child’s progress in Maths would be according to the goal and current proficiency level. Spot weaknesses that emanate from repeated mistakes, identifying level of understanding of topics and analyse scoring trends according to sections in the practice exam papers or preliminary examinations is key to formulate a winning strategy for your child’s academic progress. 

If your child has set a goal to achieve an A* and is consistently scoring 80 marks and above in school examinations, you can target to let your child focus more on challenging non-routine problems sums while at the same time ensure that the foundation sums in the front sections of the paper still maintain a high score and preferably, be bold and aim for full marks.    

For a goal to achieve an A or B, it is important that the fundamentals is strong and good. Work on the concepts and the important links between topics like Fractions and Decimals, Fractions and Ratio, Fractions and Percentage (they are very very closely related topics) More practice on basic mental sums or arithmetic calculations is important too but only allocate a small portion of time on this. Finally, move on to focus more on the problem sums solving methods (with examples first) once a good depth of knowledge is attained on the relevant topics. Remember, mathematics to a certain extent is about practice, practice and practice! 

Depending on the learning pace of each child, which is different, you or the tutor should adjust and suit the learning progress accordingly.  

Thirdly, inculcate good examination practices if your child still has not know or practice any yet. Plan the time for each section or even each question well and allocate enough time for checking such that your child can answer you how much time he is going to spend for example, a Section A MCQ. 

To make a point, we would actually recommend that the preparation as stated above starts at least 1.5 years before the PSLE. Some of the strategies as stated above are not limited to Maths alone and are in fact also employed for students in ConsultAtutor’s One to One Tutoring Program. As time is a luxury at this moment for those taking PSLE this year, even more hard work and personal attention would have to be put in. As the saying goes, no pain, no gain! 

You wouldn't want this to happen! =)

You wouldn't want this to happen! =)

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TechBites Series: Cool “Bladeless” Fan

Dyson Air Multiplier

Dyson Air Multiplier

We have all seen the good old household fan or ceiling fan around almost everyday. Think that the fan has to exist with blades inside a cage? You probably have not thought about how it doesn’t need to be so!  

What we are featuring in this part of the series is a new product called the Air Multiplier invented by Dyson, a household appliances giant famous for innovation and design. This breakthrough in technology could mean that your household fan in the future would need no blades!  

Besides making your household chore lighter as its so much easier to clean, it is also very safe when children are playing around in the house. Not only is it easy to clean without a cage, the Air Multiplier also packs a punch with a technology that delivers the wind to you in a cool, smooth breeze instead of intermittent waves of air to bring about a much more pleasurable experience. 

Surely the Air Multiplier looks great and feel good, but it does not come cheap at around SGD$400!! We’ll leave it for you to do the maths.   

Into the tech stuff, how the Air Multiplier works is to draw air into the unit using an internal fan (it does have a fan actually, just that you do not see it now) and accelerates the air 15x through its loop amplifier (the big round tube that you see). Fluid dynamics is the key in the acceleration. If you are into Physics or currently studying JC Physics, do check out the short video on How it Works to find out more. 

For more interesting articles on technology from our TechBites series, stay tuned by “favoriting”!     

Dyson Air Multiplier in use    


How It Works     

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Left Brain, Right Brain, Whole Brain?

If you are an educator or a parent, you probably would have wondered at times what is the “correct key” that fits into the “lock” that each child holds. Finding it is crucial for the child’s development since no one child is the same. Being able to identify various types of “locks” for different type of children and choosing the “correct key” is a skill that takes effort and a little bit of ingenuity.

To make things simpler, you ought to know more about different learning styles and personality types that are generally attributed to brain dominance. A good educator knows this and always try to identify and work with the style suited to that particular student.  In addition, she chooses the right tools that could ignite the flame of learning in the student and motivates him to improve. 

Well, you could probably have heard of left or right brain dominance but how about whole brain? A very good model created by William “Ned” Hermann commonly known as “The Whole Brain Model” is widely used in various organisations including corporations and educational institutions, it models the way our brain functions in four different systems with four preferred styles:

A Quadrant: Analytical thinking.

  • Key word: logical, factual, critical, technical and quantitative.
  • Preferred activities: collecting data, listening to informational lectures, reading textbooks. Judging ideas based on facts, criteria and logical reasoning.
B Quadrant: Sequential thinking.
  • Key word: conservative, structured, organised, detailed, and planned.
  • Preferred activities: following directions, repetitive detailed homework problems, time management and schedules.
C Quadrant: Interpersonal thinking
  • Key word: kinesthetic, emotional, spiritual, sensory, feeling.
  • Preferred activities: listening to and sharing ideas, looking for personal meaning, sensory input, and group study.
D Quadrant: Imaginative thinking.
  • Key word: Visual, holistic, intuitive, innovative, and conceptual.
  • Preferred activities: Looking at the big picture, taking initiative, simulations (what if questions), visual aids. Appreciate beauty of a problem, brainstorming.


“The Whole Brain Model”

If you would like to know more, here is a very good research article on the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) or “The Whole Brain Model”. Start exploring if you haven’t!

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