Secondary School

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. "

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:"

The Significance of Mass Migration, and How to Better Talk about it

"Why should we place an emphasis on the wave of mass migration to Singapore in the years before the Second World War? Singaporeans who have gone through the local education system would know very well about the mass movement of people to the island after the coming of the British. Their pre-existing understandings are likely to have been forged by a symbiotic combination of National Education messages and the popular media portrayals of the period. "

Enhancing Students’ Understanding of Bi-Polarity in the History Classroom

"Back when I was a history student in my secondary school days, I thought I had understood the dichotomy between Communism and Democracy, and how this ideological divide set the basis for the outbreak and development of the Cold War. However, my understanding of this dichotomy was challenged over the years when I began to recognize that merely stating the differences was insufficient to account for a global “event” that lasted almost half a century. "

Teaching for Historical Understanding through Role-Play

"For the average fourteen-year-old student in Singapore, knowledge about the nation’s road to independence may be limited to a rather narrow field-of-view, i.e. seen through the actions of leaders from the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the events that led to the achievement of independence under Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership. They may not be aware of the different political parties that were vying for political power at the time or the complex circumstances that paved the road towards independence. "

Classroom Conversation: The Use Of Discussion-Based Strategy In The History Classroom

"In Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, Sam Wineburg argued that historical thinking “in its deepest forms, is neither a natural process nor something that springs automatically from psychological development” (2001: 7). He proposed that in order to understand and grapple with the past, we must change our existing mental structures. In reality, however, Singapore teachers often find themselves “telling history” to their students, as if particular stories about the past can be told in a linear manner or told through a given narrative. The idea that students would need to learn how to mentally wrestle with unfamiliar content, and to also become competent at requisite examination skills that demonstrate proficiency in managing the specified content, may perhaps seem an unfeasible expectation. "

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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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