Thursday, February 20, 2014

Slides for Jakarta Sharing on 22 Feb 14

Please download the presentation slides  << HERE>>

Guidelines for Designing ICT Enriched Lessons

In designing ICT enriched lessons, it is important to establish the learning goals and objectives. The Taba Model is a good reference for teachers who are involved in lesson design and curriculum planning.

The Taba Model for curriculum was developed by Hilda Taba. It was called a grassroots effort as she advocated that the teachers themselves needed to be heavily involved in the development of the curriculum. She believed that there must be a definite order to the creation of a curriculum.

Hilda Taba’s curriculum model can be found in curriculums used in many schools today. Her approach is based on the behavioral approach to curriculum design. It is based on a step by step plan, with specific goals and objectives with activities that coincide and are evaluated with the stated objectives. Taba developed a process for determining what needs to be taught to students and included a guide on how to accomplish the outcomes from students (Costa & Loveall, 2002). Hilda Taba believed that there must be a process for evalutating student achievement of content after the content standards have been established and implemented.

The main concept of this approach to curriculum development is that teachers must be involved in the development of the curriculum. She believed that the curriculum should be organized around generlized learning objectives which enables students to discover principles that will enable them to be successfully (Middaugh & Perlstein, 2005).

There are seven major steps for developing a "grassroots approach to curriculum development. These steps are:
1.      Identify the needs of the students;
2.      Defines the learning objectives to be taught;
3.      Selection of learning content based on the learning objectives
4.      Sequence the content according to learner's interest, achievement level;
5.      Select instructional methods and learning tools (incl. ICT tools) to engage students meaningfully;
6.      Organise the learning activities
7.      Determine what is going to be evaluated and how to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum.

In addition, Taba stated that the learning objectives can be organised into three main areas:
·         Knowledge
·         Skills
·         Concepts

She was an advocate for students using problem solving and inquiry discovery techniques. The main idea to this approach is that the needs of the students are at the forefront to the curriculum. The use of Taba's ideals of charting students’ status in learning and placing students with similar learning in diverse groupings, what is now called collaborative learning groups. This is an idea that needs to be considered if using the basic ideas of this approach in curriculum design.


Frankel, Jack R., (1994). The evolution of the Taba Curriculum Development Project. Social studies (84)n4, p. 149-159.
Parry, L., ( ). Innovation and Consolidation in Curriculum Development & Reform.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Difficulties in understanding word problems in Mathematics

Many primary school students in Singapore often face several difficulties when they solve word problems in Mathematics.  Broadly, the difficulties can be categorized into three groups: - (1) Lack of sense making in students, (2) Difficulties in comprehending word problems and (3) Struggle with comparative phrases and relational statements.

Lack of sense making in students
Verschaffel, Greer & De Corte (2000) and Schoenfeld (1992) observed that students have a tendency to disconnect mathematical problem solving from the real world. When solving word problems, students find it very important to recognize familiar key words; select an appropriate operation; produce an answer through some mathematical computations from the given data without making sense of the demands of the word problem (Foong, 2009). In addition, students have a tendency to rush into solving questions and inevitably suspend their ability to make sense when they solve mathematics word problems. This could be a potential impediment as it hinders the development of problem solving and critical thinking skills, which are the important emphasis in the Singapore school mathematics curriculum.

Difficulties in comprehending word problems
Difficulties in comprehending word problems can come from the semantic structure of the problem and its language consistency with the required operations. Foong (2009) discovered that students’ failure to solve word problems was not due to their lack of arithmetic ability but their inability to construct an appropriate problem representation as a result of the way the problem was structured. Depending on how a word problem is phrased, students often find it difficult to solve word problems as they do not fully comprehend and understand the demands of the word problem. 

The struggle with comparative phrases and relational statements

With the above, Ng & Lee (2004) also postulated that students struggle with comparative phrases. They fumble with relational terms such as more than, less than, as much as and as many as. In certain cases, students lacked the linguistic and conceptual knowledge to comprehend the relational statements and have the misconception that the answer to the word problem can be obtained by performing one or more mathematical operations with the numbers provided. This struggle becomes increasingly difficult when the relational statement does not go along with the expected operation (Verschaffel, 1994).