Junior College

The “Black Rain” – A Re-assessment on the Dropping of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” on Japan

"In 1965, Masuji Ibuse, a native son of Hiroshima, published his Black Rain (Kuroi Ame). The novel is masterful reconstruction of death from radiation sickness based on the diary of a Hiroshima survivor plus interviews with some 50 hibakusha or victims of the atomic holocaust. Ibuse’s sensitivity to the complex web of emotions in a traditional community torn asunder by this historical event has made Black Rain one of the most acclaimed treatments of the Hiroshima story. "

What Does It Mean to Make Inferences?

"“Wie es eigentlich gewesen,” declared Leopold von Ranke. Despite many successive and successful intellectual assaults on the axioms of this methodology, it remains the guiding principle and aspiration of historians today. The main goal of the historian’s craft is still to report things as they are (Anthony, 1994). However, historians are not time travelers, and the only way to pierce the murky veil of time is through the imperfect crystal ball spun from a patchwork of sources. Consequently, the use of sources and historical evidence to dutifully reconstruct what likely happened in the past is the bread and butter of the historian’s craft. From Herodotus and Thucydides, to the historians of today, the use of a combination of primary and secondary sources to answer one’s inquiry question about the past stands to be the only constant in the methodology of a historian (Carr, 1961)."

Using Weighted Hinge Questions (WHQs) to Assess Students’ Causal Understanding

"Assessment in Singapore’s history classrooms has long reflected our teachers’ enduring focus on preparing students to meet examination requirements. The most common assessment practices revolve around assessing students’ proficiency in handling source-based case study questions and in using writing frames to answer essay questions asked in national examinations. Furthermore, many of these assessment tasks are typically assigned at the end of each topic or theme in the syllabus. There are, however, significant drawbacks to this assessment approach. First, this approach frequently offers delayed quantitative and qualitative descriptions of learner performance, thus preventing teachers from tracking their students’ learning during the instructional process and adjusting their pedagogical strategies accordingly to address students’ learning needs. "

Developing Formative Assessments on Evidence for Pre-University History

"Pre-University History teachers often use A-Level History examination questions and general formative assessment strategies (e.g. questioning and student reflection) as formative assessments. Such approaches to formative assessment provide limited information about students’ understanding of historical concepts and skills to inform teaching and learning. This article outlines the process of developing a formative assessment that assess students’ understanding of historical evidence. It uses ideas from the Stanford History Education Group’s Historical Assessments of Thinking and the affordances of the Singapore Student Learning Space to expand the range of formative assessment tools available to teachers. The use of short assessments designed to make students’ thinking visible provides teachers with valuable and timely information on students’ learning to inform their teaching for deeper historical understanding."

Assessment for Learning in History: Maximizing Error Analysis to bridge students’ learning gaps in answering Source-Based Case Study Questions

"Source-Based Case Study (SBCS) is a compulsory part of the formal history assessment in the Singapore context. It falls under Assessment Objective 3 which requires students to “interpret and evaluate source material” (MOE, 2013). Since this is an important component in the current assessment, history teachers spend a significant amount of time helping students to master the skills associated with this aspect. In addition, they would mark SBCS assignments and some would give feedback to help students know where they stand and how they can improve. Teachers would normally include comments and some of them may write a copious amount of feedback. While teachers have the good intention of writing feedback to help students improve their performance, anecdotal evidence suggest that students skim over the feedback and concentrate mainly on the marks and grades awarded. This action, on the part of the students, negates the impact of Formative Assessment (FA) “as one that is specifically meant to provide feedback on performance to improve and accelerate learning” (Sadler, 1998). "

Assessing Historical Discussion

"Discussion can be a valuable element of history classrooms, and assessing participation can provide an important means of improving students’ engagement in this valuable form of communication. Doing so requires that teachers identify the specific skills of historical discussion that they want students to master; teach those skills systematically; and develop practical procedures for collecting information on students’ participation. This article suggests guidelines for teachers to consider in preparing for each of these tasks."

Sparking Joy in History Classrooms

"In 2017, then-Minister of Education, Ng Chee Meng emphasized the need for joy of learning in schools. In his parliamentary speech, he commented, “We believe in nurturing the joy of learning so that every child can discover his interests, grow his passions, and love what he is doing. School should not just be about doing well in exams. It should be an exciting place to acquire knowledge and skills, where learning is fun and with the necessary rigour” (Ng, 2017, para. 11). For him, the joy of learning is not merely about having fun in the classroom; it should be balanced with academic rigour. Since then, this has become the prevailing view of the Ministry of Education (MOE) Singapore, and reinforced by the current Minister, Ong Ye Kung in the 2018 Schools Workplan Seminar:"

Rethinking the Approach to Teaching Causation In the History Classroom

"​Core to historical research and the teaching of history is the concept of causation – in fact, E. H. Carr (1961: 87) famously opined, “the study of history is a study of causes”. Without an awareness and understanding of the concept of causation, it would be difficult to comprehend the reasons why events happened the way they did, and that evidence could be marshalled within a historical context to justify the relative hierarchy of factors for any given historical occurrence."

Historical Sources In The Classroom: Purpose and Use

"Historical sources are a common feature of history classrooms, but the purpose of using them is not always clear, and as a result, instructional activities with sources may not be as effective or meaningful as they should be. This lack of clarity stems in part from the fact that there are four distinctly different reasons for using sources, and each carries its own implications for classroom practice. These purposes are 1) illustration and motivation; 2) evidence for historical inquiry; 3) visual or textual interpretation; 4) source analysis. By reflecting on how each of these purposes can play a role in the classroom, which kinds of sources are appropriate for each, and where they fit into an overall sequence of instruction, teachers can ensure that their use of sources deepens and extends students’ historical understanding."

Studying and Constructing History: A Historian’s Take

"As a historian, I consider myself very privileged to be working alongside history educators and history teachers. This is a privilege that not many academic historians can enjoy since there are very few university departments that offer a combination of courses in academic history and history pedagogy such as those offered by HSSE. From my colleagues, I not only gained new insights into history education and classroom teaching, but I have also come to appreciate that there is a clear distinction between what I do as a historian – the locating and reading of primary documents and the very tedious process of reading, corroborating, cross-referencing and finally writing – and what history teachers do in the classroom, that is to teach history as a school subject. "


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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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